Benvest New Look Income Fund
TSX : BCI.UN

Benvest New Look Income Fund

March 19, 2009 14:11 ET

Benvest New Look Income Fund's 2008 Annual Report: Increase in Revenues, EBITDA and Net Earnings

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 19, 2009) - Benvest New Look Income Fund (TSX:BCI.UN) announced today that for the twelve months ended December 31, 2008, eye care operations generated revenues of $62.9 million and an EBITDA(1) of $10.5 million, representing increases of 8 % and 5% respectively over last year. Net earnings were $5.2 million ($0.52 per unit) representing an increase of $0.7 million or 16% over last year. Revenue growth is attributable to sales increases in both comparable stores and new stores.

The operating subsidiary, New Look Eyewear Inc., invested $4.8 million in 2008 to renovate seven stores, added four stores to the network (including an acquisition), and purchased state-of-the-art eye care equipment to be used by the eye care professionals. The New Look eyewear store network development is almost complete in the urban markets of Quebec. Our continued expansion plan consists of further developing, by way of acquisitions, the store network into smaller markets where the offer of optical services and products can be enhanced.

"The consumers are asking for exceptional professional services, a wide variety of high quality products and competitive prices. Our dedicated eye care staff and professionals are responding to consumers' needs and everyone at New Look is committed to enhancing the value provided to our customers" stated Martial Gagne, President of New Look who added: "We are pleased with the overall financial results despite current economical environment and also with the progress made in all regions, including the Eastern Ontario market where we continue to strengthen our position".

The fourth quarter of 2008

Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2008 increased by $0.5 million or 3.7%, as compared with the corresponding quarter of 2007. During the same period, EBITDA increased by $0.2 million or 12.5% in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2007. Net earnings were $0.9 million as compared with $0.4 million in 2007. Management's analysis reports that the fourth quarter of 2008 has proven to be very satisfactory in consideration of the overall retail industry results in Quebec.

SEE TABLE ATTACHED FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION

(1) Refer to Note 1 in the attached table for a definition of EBITDA.

On May 1st, 2005, Benvest Capital Inc. was converted into an income trust named the Benvest New Look Income Fund, the purpose of which is to hold securities of New Look Eyewear Inc. ("New Look"). New Look is a leading enterprise in the eye care industry in Eastern Canada, with growth opportunities based on demographic trends and the consolidation of the industry in Canada. As of February 28, 2009, 5,889,830 units of the Fund were issued and outstanding and listed for trading on the TSX. In addition, 3,870,404 exchangeable shares (on a consolidated basis) of New Look were also issued and outstanding. These shares, which are not listed or freely tradable, have been exchangeable on a one-for-one basis into units of the Fund since May 1st, 2006.

This press release may contain certain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and / or expectations of Benvest New Look Income Fund with respect to its performance, business, and future events. Such statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. Actual results and events may vary.



BENVEST NEW LOOK INCOME FUND
Consolidated Earnings
In thousands of dollars, except per unit amounts
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
12 months ended
December 31,
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
2008 2007
$ $
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Revenues from eye care 62,869 58,218
Cost of goods sold, operating, selling
and administration expenses 52,383 48,195
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
EBITDA(1) 10,486 10,023
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amortization 3,426 3,614
Financial expenses, net of interest revenues 589 583
Equity-based compensation expense 126 134
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
4,141 4,331
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Earnings before the following items 6,345 5,692
Net gain on foreign currency translation 14 126
Expenses related to portfolio investments (42) (369)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Earnings before income taxes
and non-controlling interest 6,317 5,449
Income taxes 1,147 981
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Earnings before non-controlling interest 5,170 4,468
Non-controlling interest 11 31
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Net earnings 5,159 4,437
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Diluted net earnings (loss) per unit or share
Basic 0.53 0.46
Diluted 0.52 0.45

(1) EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest income and expenses,
income taxes and amortization. It excludes any gain or loss on foreign
currency translation (except if related to cost of goods sold), net
gains or losses related to portfolio investments, and equity-based
compensation expense. EBITDA is not a recognized measure under Canadian
generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") and may not be
comparable to similar measures used by other companies. Investors
should be cautioned that EBITDA should not be construed as an
alternative to net earnings as determined in accordance with GAAP. The
Fund believes it is a useful financial metric as it assists in
determining the ability to generate cash from operations.

Contact Information