Torstar Corp., publisher of the Toronto Star, reported adjusted earnings per share of 16 cents in the fourth quarter of 2016, up 26 cents from the prior year.
Also in the quarter, operating profit was $10.3 million — an improvement of $217.4 million from the fourth quarter of 2015, the company reported Wednesday.
“We were pleased with results in the quarter, with segmented adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) up $6.5 million versus prior year,” said David Holland, president and CEO of Torstar.
“Importantly, Digital Ventures adjusted EBITDA was up $2.4 million attributable to 34 per cent earnings growth at VerticalScope,” he said in a statement.
Torstar has a majority stake in VerticalScope, which owns and operates more than 600 online forums and premium content sites across North America.
In the first full year of Torstar’s investment in 2016, VerticalScope contributed $23.7 million of segmented adjusted EBITDA as VerticalScope’s U.S. dollar revenues and adjusted EBITDA increased 21 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, relative to the full year in 2015.
Holland also noted segmented adjusted EBITDA at Star Media Group was up $5.5 million as cost reductions and lower year-over-year investment in Star Touch, the company’s tablet app, “more than offset continued pressure on print advertising revenues.”
“At Metroland, with EBITDA down just $1.5 million, results in the quarter reflected a slight improvement in the revenue trend contributing to a solid finish to the year,” he said.
“This has been a significant year of transition at Torstar, with our earnings base shifting meaningfully towards our digital assets led by VerticalScope,” he said.
“Looking forward, we expect to continue to benefit from a solid financial position, having finished 2016 with $75 million in unrestricted cash and no bank debt. In 2017, we expect the digital evolution of our asset base to continue through reinvestment in and support of VerticalScope and through our continued efforts to advance our multi-platform strategy across our newspaper operations,” he said.
Holland, also acting publisher of the Toronto Star, will be retiring effective Friday following his previously announced intention to retire. An announcement regarding his successor is expected very soon, the company said.
“It has been a great privilege to serve as Torstar’s president and CEO for the past eight years. I wish my successor the very best in leading the continued evolution of the company,” Holland said.
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