SOURCE: Torstar Corporation

Torstar Corporation

March 04, 2015 06:30 ET

Torstar Corporation Reports Fourth Quarter Results

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - March 04, 2015) - Torstar Corporation (TSX: TS.B) today reported financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2014.

Highlights for the fourth quarter:

  • Segmented revenue (see "non-IFRS measures") was $244.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $26.6 million (9.8%) from the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Segmented adjusted EBITDA (see "non-IFRS measures") was $38.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $13.1 million (25.2%) from $51.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Segmented operating profit (see "non-IFRS measures") was $19.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $6.1 million from $26.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Net income from continuing operations was $20.9 million ($0.26 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014, an increase of $5.1 million ($0.06 per share) from $15.8 million ($0.20 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2013. 
  • Adjusted earnings per share (see "non-IFRS measures") was $0.30 in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $0.04 from $0.34 in the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • Net income attributable to equity shareholders was $20.6 million ($0.26 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014 consistent with the fourth quarter of 2013.
  • Ended 2014 with total cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash of $290.2 million after retiring all outstanding debt.

Highlights for the year:

  • The sale of Harlequin closed on August 1, 2014 for net accounting proceeds of $442.2 million, resulting in a pre-tax accounting gain of $224.6 million.
  • Generated $43.3 million of free cash flow including significant funding of pension and restructuring obligations (excludes dividends, see "non-IFRS measures").
  • Net income attributable to equity shareholders was $172.7 million ($2.16 per share) in 2014 up $200.7 million ($2.51 per share) from a loss of $28.0 million ($0.35 per share) in 2013.
  • Total segmented revenue was $904.6 million in 2014, down $79.4 million (8.1%) from $984.0 million in 2013. 
  • Segmented adjusted EBITDA was $101.7 million in 2014, down $15.5 million (13.2%) from $117.2 million in 2013. 
  • Segmented operating profit (loss) was a loss of $52.4 million in 2014, an increase of $14.7 million from a loss of $37.7 million in 2013. The segmented operating losses for 2014 and 2013 include non-cash charges primarily recorded in the third quarters of 2014 and 2013 for impairment of assets totalling $97.9 million and $86.1 million respectively. 
  • Net loss from continuing operations was $49.6 million ($0.62 per share) in 2014, an improvement of $8.4 million ($0.11 per share) from $58.0 million ($0.73 per share) in 2013. 
  • Adjusted earnings per share was $0.58 in 2014, down $0.04 from $0.62 in 2013.

"This was a very significant year at Torstar with the decision to sell the Harlequin operation. We have retired all debt and closed the year in a significant cash position. Operationally, in 2014 we continued to feel the effects of a challenging print advertising environment," said David Holland, President and CEO of Torstar Corporation. "Results in the quarter were lower and somewhat mixed with segment adjusted EBITDA down $13.1 million to $38.6 million as revenue declines exceeded the effect of continuing efforts on costs. Star Media Group had a difficult quarter while Metroland Media, our community media operation, fared relatively better. At the Star Media Group challenging print advertising revenue trends continued through the fourth quarter whereas Metroland experienced the continuation of an improving trend and a 2% decline in print advertising revenues in the quarter."

"Looking forward, in 2015 we anticipate continued pressure on print advertising revenues but we remain committed to making the investments necessary to our future as we adapt to this evolving media environment. At Star Media Group, we are very committed to our multi-platform strategy and believe that the 2015 investment in the launch of the new Toronto Star tablet edition, scheduled for the fall, will be integral to that future. At Metroland, the evolution as a community media and marketing solutions organization is ongoing. We also remain focused on resizing the cost base including ongoing restructuring efforts. And finally, we intend to take advantage of our strong financial position and continue to be active in assessing opportunities available to us to employ capital arising from the Harlequin sale." 

The following chart provides a continuity of earnings per share and adjusted earnings per share from the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2013 to the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2014:

          
          
   Fourth quarter   Year Ended Dec. 31  
   
Earnings Per Share
  Adjusted Earnings Per Share   
Earnings Per Share
  Adjusted Earnings Per Share  
Earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to equity shareholders in 2013  
$0.20
  
$0.34
  
($0.73
) 
$0.62
 
Changes                 
 Operations  (0.10 ) (0.10 ) (0.13 ) (0.13 )
 Interest and financing costs  0.04   0.04   0.11   0.11  
 Associated businesses  0.02   0.02   (0.02 ) (0.02 )
 Restructuring and other charges*  0.02       0.10      
 Impairment of assets*  0.01       (0.15 )    
 Non-cash foreign exchange*  0.01       (0.06 )    
 Other income (expense) *  0.06       0.04      
 Change in deferred taxes          0.22      
Earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to equity shareholders in 2014  $0.26   $0.30   ($0.62 ) $0.58  
Earnings per share from discontinued operations attributable to equity shareholders in 2014          $2.78      
Earnings per share attributable to equity shareholders in 2014  $0.26   $0.30   $2.16   $0.58  
             
             

* Items are excluded from definition of adjusted earnings per share, "see Non-IFRS measures"

OPERATING RESULTS - FOURTH QUARTER 2014
The following tables sets out, in $000's the segmented results for the three months ended December 31, 2014 and 2013.

   
   
Fourth Quarter 2014  
(in $000's)  MMG   SMG   Corporate   Total Segmented*   Adjustments
&
Eliminations for Joint Ventures
 
 Total Per Consolidated Statement of Income  
Operating revenue  $130,788   $114,079       $244,867   ($11,433 ) $233,434  
Salaries and benefits  (56,996 ) (36,763 ) ($2,796 ) (96,555 ) 4,756   (91,799 )
Other operating costs  (51,828 ) (56,398 ) (1,451 ) (109,677 ) 4,496   (105,181 )
Adjusted EBITDA**  21,964   20,918   (4,247 ) 38,635   (2,181 ) 36,454  
Amortization & depreciation  (3,516 ) (4,222 ) (12 ) (7,750 ) 669   (7,081 )
Operating earnings**  18,448   16,696   (4,259 ) 30,885   (1,512 ) 29,373  
Restructuring and other charges  (551 ) (10,327 )     (10,878 ) 8   (10,870 )
Impairment of assets  (63 )         (63 )     (63 )
Operating profit (loss)**  $17,834   $6,369   ($4,259 ) $19,944   ($1,504 ) $18,440  
                   
                   
   
   
Fourth Quarter 2013  
(in $000's)  MMG   SMG   Corporate   Total Segmented*   Adjustments
&
Eliminations for Joint Ventures
  Total Per Consolidated Statement of Income 
Operating revenue  $134,618   $136,831       $271,449   ($12,034 ) $259,415  
Salaries and benefits  (57,873 ) (40,197 ) ($2,643 ) (100,713 ) 4,599   (96,114 )
Other operating costs  (53,250 ) (65,137 ) (673 ) (119,060 ) 4,604   (114,456 )
Adjusted EBITDA**  23,495   31,497   (3,316 ) 51,676   (2,831 ) 48,845  
Amortization & depreciation  (3,689 ) (5,173 ) (10 ) (8,872 ) 693   (8,179 )
Operating earnings**  19,806   26,324   (3,326 ) 42,804   (2,138 ) 40,666  
Restructuring and other charges  (6,754 ) (9,758 )     (16,512 ) 389   (16,123 )
Impairment of assets      (266 )     (266 )     (266 )
Operating profit (loss)**  $13,052   $16,300   ($3,326 ) $26,026   ($1,749 ) $24,277  
                   
                   

* Includes proportionately consolidated share of joint venture operations
** These are non-IFRS or additional IFRS measures, see "non-IFRS measures."

Revenue
Segmented revenue was down $26.6 million or 9.8% in the fourth quarter of 2014. As with previous quarters, the fourth quarter declines primarily reflected lower print advertising revenues which continued to be under pressure. At Metroland Media Group, similar to the second and third quarters of 2014, the rate of print advertising revenue decline slowed relative to earlier in the year with the decline of 2.0% in the fourth quarter representing the lowest quarterly decline in more than eight quarters. At the Star Media Group, revenue declines in the fourth quarter reflected continued pressure on national advertising revenues and the closure of print operations in three of Metro's smaller regions. As compared with the fourth quarter of 2013, multi-platform subscriber revenues decreased by 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014, due in part, to a one-time favourable adjustment included in multi-platform subscriber revenues in the fourth quarter of 2013 at the Toronto Star.

Digital revenues were down by 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2014. This decline was primarily the result of lower revenues at Olive Media and Workopolis largely offset by growth in other digital properties including eyeReturn Marketing, Metroland digital services and community websites, save.ca and WagJag. Digital revenues were 13.1% of total segmented revenues in the fourth quarter of 2014 up from 12.0% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Adjusted EBITDA
Segmented adjusted EBITDA was $38.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $13.1 million from the fourth quarter of 2013 reflecting declines in print advertising revenues which were only partially offset by cost reductions. During the fourth quarter, Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group combined adjusted EBITDA decreased a combined $12.1 million and Corporate expenses increased by $1.0 million. Overall costs at Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group decreased by $14.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 including $5.7 million of savings from restructuring initiatives, as well as lower pension costs and the impact of lower newsprint price and consumption.

Profitability in the digital properties decreased in the fourth quarter of 2014 as a result of lower profitability at Olive Media, Workopolis and thestar.com. Fourth quarter profitability for the thestar.com was negatively affected by investment spending associated with digital initiatives. These declines were partially offset by continued improved profitability at digital properties including Metroland Media Group's digital services, WagJag and save.ca.

Operating earnings
Segmented operating earnings were $30.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $11.9 million relative to the fourth quarter of 2013. 

Restructuring and other charges
Total segmented restructuring and other charges of $10.9 million and $16.5 million were recorded in the fourth quarters of 2014 and 2013 respectively. Fourth quarter 2014 restructuring provisions are expected to result in annualized net savings of $7.8 million and a reduction of approximately 70 positions. None of the savings associated with these initiatives were realized in the fourth quarter of 2014. 

Operating profit
Segmented operating profit was $19.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, down $6.1 million from $26.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interest and financing costs (income)
Interest and financing income was $0.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to interest and financing expense of $4.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. Interest and financing income for the fourth quarter of 2014 primarily relates to $0.9 million of interest income earned on cash and cash equivalents, partially offset by financing costs related to employee benefit plans and other interest expense.

Interest expense for 2013 included $2.2 million of financing costs related to employee benefit plans as well as $1.9 million of interest on debt. 

All amounts outstanding under previous debt facilities were repaid during the third quarter of 2014 using proceeds from the sale of Harlequin.

Income (loss) of associated businesses
Income from associated businesses was $1.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to a loss of $0.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. The fourth quarter of 2014 included income of $2.1 million from Black Press and income of $0.2 million from Blue Ant, partially offset by a loss of $1.2 million from Shop.ca.

Loss from associated businesses was $0.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. The fourth quarter of 2013 included income of $1.3 million from Black Press and income of $0.4 million from Tuango, offset by a loss of $1.5 million from Shop.ca, a loss of $0.4 million from Canadian Press, a loss of $0.2 million from Blue Ant and a loss of $0.2 million related to other investments.

Other income (expense)
Other income was $5.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to $0.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. Other income for 2014 included a $4.5 million gain on sale of Tuango and a $0.7 million gain on the sale of an available-for-sale investment. 

Income and other taxes
Torstar's effective tax rate was 23.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to 23.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013. 

Net income (loss) from continuing operations
Net income from continuing operations of $20.9 million ($0.26 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014 was up $5.1 million ($0.06 per share) from $15.8 million ($0.20 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2013. 

The average number of Class A voting shares and Class B non-voting shares outstanding was 80.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from 79.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Discontinued operations
Revenue and net income from discontinued operations were $nil in the fourth quarter of 2014 as discontinued operations previously included the operations of Harlequin which was sold in the third quarter of 2014. In 2013, fourth quarter revenue and net income from discontinued operations were $89.0 million and $5.3 million respectively.

Net income (loss) attributable to equity shareholders
Net income attributable to equity shareholders was $20.6 million ($0.26 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014 consistent with the fourth quarter of 2013. 

OPERATING RESULTS - YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2014
The following tables sets out, in $000's the segmented results for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013.

   
   
2014  
(in $000's) MMG   SMG   Corporate   Total Segmented*   Adjustments
&
Eliminations for Joint Ventures
  Total Per Consolidated Statement of Income  
Operating revenue $484,225   $420,393       $904,618   ($46,484 ) $858,134  
Salaries and benefits (219,340 ) (149,695 ) ($11,136 ) (380,171 ) 18,627   (361,544 )
Other operating costs (196,866 ) (221,149 ) (4,760 ) (422,775 ) 18,255   (404,520 )
Adjusted EBITDA** 68,019   49,549   (15,896 ) 101,672   (9,602 ) 92,070  
Amortization & depreciation (14,644 ) (18,700 ) (57 ) (33,401 ) 2,727   (30,674 )
Operating earnings** 53,375   30,849   (15,953 ) 68,271   (6,875 ) 61,396  
Restructuring and other charges (6,937 ) (15,769 )     (22,706 ) 60   (22,646 )
Impairment of assets (329 ) (97,606 )     (97,935 ) 15,000   (82,935 )
Operating profit (loss)** $46,109   ($82,526 ) ($15,953 ) ($52,370 ) $8,185   ($44,185 )
                  
                  
                         
                         
2013  
(in $000's) MMG   SMG   Corporate   Total Segmented*   Adjustments
&
Eliminations for Joint Ventures
  Total Per Consolidated Statement of Income  
Operating revenue $509,862   $474,185       $984,047   ($48,274 ) $935,773  
Salaries and benefits (229,554 ) (168,744 ) ($10,743 ) (409,041 ) 20,056   (388,985 )
Other operating costs (209,435 ) (245,537 ) (2,860 ) (457,832 ) 18,833   (438,999 )
Adjusted EBITDA** 70,873   59,904   (13,603 ) 117,174   (9,385 ) 107,789  
Amortization & depreciation (15,221 ) (19,703 ) (40 ) (34,964 ) 2,736   (32,228 )
Operating earnings** 55,652   40,201   (13,643 ) 82,210   (6,649 ) 75,561  
Restructuring and other charges (14,034 ) (19,795 )     (33,829 ) 659   (33,170 )
Impairment of assets (12,802 ) (73,292 )     (86,094 ) 9,000   (77,094 )
Operating profit (loss)** $28,816   ($52,886 ) ($13,643 ) ($37,713 ) $3,010   ($34,703 )
                  
                  

* Includes proportionately consolidated share of joint venture operations
** These are non-IFRS or additional IFRS measures, see "non-IFRS measures."

Revenue
Segmented revenue was down $79.4 million or 8.1% inclusive of a $5.3 million decrease in product sales and TMGTV revenue at Metroland Media Group. Segmented revenues, excluding the impact of TMGTV revenue and product sales at Metroland Media Group, were down $74.1 million or 7.5% in 2014. This decline was primarily the result of lower print advertising revenues which continued to be under pressure in 2014. However, multi-platform subscriber revenues and flyer distribution revenues, were relatively stable in the year. At Metroland Media Group, while print advertising revenues declined, the rate of decline slowed relative to 2013. In addition, in the latter part of the year, the rate of decline slowed relative to earlier in 2014. At the Star Media Group, revenue declined as a result of pressures on national advertising as well as the closure of print operations in three of Metro's smaller regions. Star Media Group revenues for 2014 were also believed by management to be negatively affected by the transition of advertising sales for the Toronto Star to Metro which occurred in the first quarter of 2014.

2014 segmented revenues were generated as follows: $556.7 million (61.5%) from print and digital advertising, $147.2 million (16.3%) from flyer distribution, $135.8 million (15.0%) from circulation/subscribers and $64.9 million (7.2%) from other activities including printing. 2013 segmented revenues were generated as follows: $631.0 million (64.1%) from print and digital advertising, $149.0 million (15.2%) from flyer distribution, $136.9 million (13.9%) from circulation/subscribers and $67.1 million (6.8%) from other activities including printing.

Digital revenue in 2014 was flat relative to 2013 as a result of revenue growth at eyeReturn Marketing, the Metroland community websites and save.ca, partially offset by lower revenues at Olive Media, WagJag and Workopolis. Digital revenues were 12.8% of total segment revenues in 2014 compared to 11.8% in 2013.

Adjusted EBITDA
Segmented adjusted EBITDA was $101.7 million in 2014, down $15.5 million or 13.2% from $117.2 million in 2013 reflecting declines in print advertising revenues which were only partially offset by cost reductions and improved digital profitability. In 2014, Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group combined adjusted EBITDA decreased by $13.2 million and Corporate expenses increased by $2.3 million.

Overall costs at Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group decreased by $66.2 million in 2014, resulting from a $29.3 million or 7.3% decrease in salary and benefit costs and a $36.9 million or 8.1% decrease in other operating costs. The decrease in salary and benefit costs included the benefit of lower pension costs and savings of $29.1 million from restructuring initiatives which were partially offset by general wage increases. The decrease in other operating costs reflects the impact of cost reduction initiatives as well as lower newsprint price and consumption largely due to print advertising revenue declines. The increase in Corporate expenses in 2014 was the result of consulting costs which are currently not expected to be recurring.

Amortization and depreciation
Total segmented amortization and depreciation decreased $1.6 million or 4.5% in 2014, reflecting lower property, plant and equipment and intangible assets in the Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group, relative to 2013.

Operating earnings
Segmented operating earnings were $68.3 million in 2014, down $13.9 million or 17.0% from $82.2 million in 2013.

Restructuring and other charges
Total segmented restructuring and other charges were $22.7 million in 2014. The 2014 restructuring initiatives are expected to result in annualized net labour savings of approximately $23.0 million and a reduction of approximately 265 positions. Of the expected savings, $8.1 million was realized in 2014. Total segmented restructuring and other charges of $33.8 million were recorded in 2013.

Impairment of assets
During 2014, Torstar incurred charges related to asset impairment of property, plant and equipment, goodwill and intangible assets and investments in joint ventures totalling $97.9 million. During 2013, Torstar incurred charges related to asset impairment totalling $86.1 million related to certain property, plant and equipment, goodwill and intangible assets and investments in joint ventures. These charges have no impact on cash flows. 

During the third quarters of 2014 and 2013, Torstar conducted impairment tests on the carrying value of intangible assets with a finite useful life, intangible assets with an indefinite useful life and goodwill. In carrying out this testing during the third quarter of 2014, it was determined that the carrying amount of goodwill in the Star Media Group of cash generating units ("CGUs") exceeded the value in use and Torstar recorded an impairment charge of $82.0 million for goodwill in the Star Media Group of CGUs. This impairment was the result of lower forecasted revenues reflecting continued shifts in spending by advertisers. Torstar also recorded a $15.0 million impairment charge in respect of its joint venture investment in Workopolis during the third quarter of 2014, resulting from lower forecasted revenues attributable to an increase in competition in the online recruitment and job search markets and prevailing economic conditions. 

In the third quarter of 2013, it was determined that the carrying amount of certain intangible assets within the Metroland Media Group CGU and goodwill in the Star Media Group of CGUs exceeded the value in use. Accordingly, Torstar recorded impairment of $12.5 million for intangible assets and leasehold improvements in the Metroland Media Group CGU and $64.0 million for goodwill in the Star Media Group of CGUs. These impairments were also the result of lower forecasted revenues reflecting shifts in spending by advertisers. Certain of the impairment charges related to intangible assets within the Metroland Media Group CGU were also the result of internal reorganization, realignment and integration of certain digital businesses which occurred during the third quarter of 2013. As a result of factors noted above, Torstar also recorded a $9.0 million impairment charge in respect of its Sing Tao Daily joint venture investment in the third quarter of 2013.

Operating profit (loss)
Segmented operating loss was $52.4 million in 2014, an increase of $14.7 million from a loss of $37.7 million in 2013 and includes non-cash impairment charges of $97.9 million and $86.1 million in 2014 and 2013 respectively. 

Interest and financing costs
Interest and financing costs were $4.3 million in 2014 down $11.8 million from 2013. The lower interest and financing costs in 2014 reflect a combination of a $7.4 million decrease in financing costs related to employee benefit plans as well as a $2.9 million decrease in interest on debt, as all amounts outstanding under previous debt facilities were repaid during the third quarter of 2014 using proceeds from the sale of Harlequin. In addition, 2014 includes $1.4 million of interest earned on cash and cash equivalents during the third and fourth quarters of 2014.

Foreign exchange
Non-cash foreign exchange losses were $7.7 million in 2014 compared to a loss of $1.2 million in 2013.

In order to offset the foreign exchange rate risk from Harlequin's net U.S. dollar denominated assets, Torstar historically maintained a certain level of U.S. dollar denominated debt and had previously designated $80.0 million of U.S. debt as a hedge of its U.S. dollar denominated net investment in Harlequin. Upon the sale of Harlequin and subsequent repayment of debt, Torstar realized $5.8 million of accumulated foreign exchange losses related to extinguishing this hedge. A portion of the foreign exchange losses for 2014 also relate to the weakening of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar prior to the closing of the sale of Harlequin and subsequent repayment of U.S. dollar denominated debt. 

In 2013, Torstar reported a non-cash foreign exchange loss of $1.2 million as a result of the Canadian dollar being weaker at the end of the year compared with the beginning and with Torstar's Canadian operations being in a net liability position in U.S. dollars for most of the year.

Income (loss) from joint ventures
Loss from joint ventures was $9.2 million in 2014 compared to a loss of $3.7 million in 2013. Although income from joint ventures was slightly higher in 2014 relative to 2013, there were impairment charges of $15.0 million recorded in 2014 related to Torstar's joint venture investment in Workopolis compared to impairment charges of $9.0 million recorded in 2013 related to Torstar's joint venture investment in Sing Tao Daily, as discussed above.

Income (loss) of associated businesses
Income of associated businesses was $0.2 million in 2014 compared to $2.3 million in 2013. 2014 included income of $4.0 million from Black Press and income of $0.4 million from Tuango, partially offset by a loss of $3.5 million from Shop.ca and a loss of $0.7 million from Blue Ant. Income of associated businesses in 2013 included income of $5.5 million from Black Press and income of $0.7 million from Tuango, partially offset by a loss of $3.1 million from Shop.ca, a loss of $0.4 million related to Canadian Press, a loss of $0.2 million from Blue Ant and a loss of $0.2 million from other investments. 

Other income (expense)
Other income was $3.8 million in 2014 compared to $0.5 million in 2013. Other income for 2014 includes a $4.5 million gain on sale of Tuango, a $1.1 million gain related to the early settlement of the existing put and call arrangements with Metro International S.A. ("MISA") and a $0.7 million gain on the sale of an available-for-sale investment.

In March 2014, Torstar and MISA agreed to an early settlement of the existing put and call arrangements between them with regards to the remaining 10% interest in Metro English Canada (previously owned by MISA). The agreed upon price for the early settlement was $10.1 million. The existing put and call arrangements were both exercisable at the same fixed price of $11.2 million beginning in October 2014. Accordingly, Torstar recorded a gain of $1.1 million on the transaction. 

These gains were partially offset by a $2.8 million charge related to the de-recognition of interest rate swaps which were previously designated as cash flow hedges. These swaps were no longer designated as effective hedges on June 30, 2014 in connection with the sale of Harlequin and the net fair value of negative $2.7 million was reclassified into other expense in the second quarter. These swaps were extinguished in the third quarter at an incremental cost of approximately $0.1 million. 

Other income (expense) for 2013 primarily reflected reductions in contingent consideration related to acquisitions prior to 2013 and investment write-downs.

Income and other taxes
Torstar recorded tax recoveries of $11.7 million in 2014, compared to a tax provision of $5.2 million in 2013. The tax recoveries in 2014 are primarily attributable to a deferred tax benefit associated with the recognition of certain previously unrecognized loss carryforwards and certain tax and accounting base differences in connection with the sale of Harlequin and the recognition of a deferred tax benefit associated with the donation of the Toronto Star's photo archive to the Toronto Public Library during 2014.

Net income (loss) from continuing operations
Net loss from continuing operations was $49.6 million ($0.62 per share) in 2014, an improvement of $8.4 million ($0.11 per share) from $58.0 million ($0.73 per share) in 2013.

Gain on sale and discontinued operations
On August 1, 2014 Torstar sold all of the shares of Harlequin to a division of HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., a subsidiary of News Corp., for a purchase price of $455.0 million. Net accounting proceeds were approximately $442.2 million ($22.8 million of which is being held in escrow) and reflect the purchase price plus adjustments for working capital and other related items. The sale of Harlequin resulted in a pre-tax accounting gain of $224.6 million, net of transaction costs. Inclusive of the use of tax assets, cash taxes payable on the gain are currently expected to be approximately $4.5 million.

Effective the second quarter of 2014, Harlequin was reclassified as Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations. Upon the closing of the sale in the third quarter of 2014, the net assets of Harlequin were no longer included in Assets Held for Sale. 

Discontinued operations for 2014 include Harlequin's results through to July 31, 2014. Revenues from discontinued operations were $213.2 million in 2014. Revenues from discontinued operations were $373.0 million in 2013.

Net income from discontinued operations and gain on sale was $222.7 million for 2014 and include a pre-tax gain of $224.6 million related to the sale of Harlequin. Net income from discontinued operations was $30.6 million in 2013. Refer to Note 24 of Torstar's 2014 Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.

Net income (loss) attributable to equity shareholders
Net income attributable to equity shareholders was $172.7 million ($2.16 per share) in 2014 up $200.7 million ($2.51 per share) from a loss of $28.0 million ($0.35 per share) in 2013.

OUTLOOK
Metroland Media Group and Star Media Group are expected to continue to face challenges in 2015 as a result of continued shifts in spending by advertisers. Early indications are that the trends experienced in 2014 at the Star Media Group have continued early into 2015. While print advertising declines were more moderate at the Metroland newspapers in 2014, it is difficult to predict if this trend will continue in 2015 given the continued evolution of advertising markets, volatility in the economy and early indications. Flyer distribution revenues are expected to remain relatively stable in 2015 excluding a moderately negative impact from the loss of certain customers due to financial challenges. Multi-platform subscriber revenues have been relatively stable in 2014 but will likely experience some degree of decline in 2015 arising from the decision to launch the Toronto Star's new tablet product and the elimination of the paywall part way through the year. Digital revenue is expected to grow in 2015.

In the area of operating costs, costs associated with the Toronto Star's planned launch of the tablet product in 2015 are currently expected to be in the range of $8 to $9 million and are expected to increase throughout the year and peak in the fourth quarter when the tablet is currently expected to launch. In addition, pension expenses are expected to increase by approximately $3.5 million in 2015 ($2.1 million in Metroland Media Group and $1.4 million in the Star Media Group). While cost reduction has been and is expected to remain an important area of focus in 2015, savings related to restructuring initiatives undertaken through the end of 2014 are expected to be $11.6 million in 2015 ($3.3 million in Metroland Media Group and $8.3 million in the Star Media Group) down from $29.1 million in 2014. In addition, in the first quarter of 2015 the Star Media Group will include an approximate $5.0 to $7.0 million recovery of compensation expense related to the anticipated receipt of digital media tax credits at the Toronto Star. Excluding the impact of launching the Toronto Star's tablet product, full year net investment spending associated with growth initiatives in 2015 are currently expected to be somewhat lower than 2014 levels.

Capital expenditures in 2015 are currently anticipated to be in the order of $30 to 35 million and are expected to include approximately $13 to $15 million of capital spending related to the Toronto Star's tablet product. 

Lastly, based on the most recent actuarial valuations, Torstar currently anticipates that the required annual funding for its registered defined benefit pension plans for 2015 through 2017 will be in the range of $18 million, down from approximately $37 million in 2014.

DIVIDEND
On March 3, 2015, Torstar declared a quarterly dividend of 13.125 cents per share on its Class A shares and Class B non-voting shares, payable on March 31, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 13, 2015. Torstar advises that, for the purposes of the Income Tax Act, Canada and for any relevant provincial tax legislation, this dividend is designated as an eligible dividend.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For additional information, please refer to Torstar's audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014 and the 2014 Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A"). Both documents will be filed today on SEDAR and are available on Torstar's corporate website www.torstar.com.

CONFERENCE CALL
Torstar has scheduled a conference call for March 4, 2015 at 8:15 a.m. to discuss its fourth quarter results. The dial-in number is (416) 340-2216 or 1-866-223-7781. A live broadcast of the conference call will be available over the internet on the Presentations, Events and Conference Calls page (Investor Relations) on Torstar's website www.torstar.com. A recording of the conference call will be available for 9 days at (905) 694-9451 or 1-800-408-3053 reservation number 8628966. An online archive of the broadcast will be available shortly after the completion of the call and will be accessible by visiting the Presentations, Events and Conference Calls (Investor Relations) page on Torstar's website www.torstar.com

About Torstar Corporation
Torstar Corporation is a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Its businesses include the Star Media Group led by the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper and Free Daily News Group Inc., which publishes the English-language Metro newspapers in several Canadian cities; Metroland Media Group, publisher of community and daily newspapers in Ontario; and also include digital properties including thestar.com, Workopolis, wagjag.com, toronto.com, save.ca, Olive Media, and eyeReturn Marketing. 

Non-IFRS measures
In addition to operating profit, an additional IFRS measure, as presented in the consolidated statement of income, management uses segmented revenue, adjusted EBITDA ("EBITDA") (and where applicable segmented adjusted EBITDA), operating earnings (and where applicable segmented operating earnings), adjusted earnings per share and free cash flow as measures to assess the consolidated performance and the performance of the reporting units and business segments. Please refer to Section 14 of Torstar's 2014 MD&A for a reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA and Operating earnings (and Segmented EBITDA/Segmented Operating earnings -- as applicable) with Operating profit (Segmented Operating profit -- as applicable), adjusted earnings per share to earnings per share and free cash flow to Increase in cash.

Segmented revenue
Segmented revenue is calculated in the same manner as in the Consolidated Financial Statements, except that it is calculated using total segment results prior to the elimination of proportionately consolidated results for joint ventures.

Adjusted EBITDA(Segmented Adjusted EBITDA)
Management believes that adjusted EBITDA is an important proxy for the amount of cash generated by Torstar's ongoing operations (or by a reporting unit or business segment) to generate liquidity to fund future capital needs and management uses this metric for this purpose. Adjusted EBITDA is not the actual cash provided by operating activities and is not a recognized measure of financial performance under IFRS. Torstar calculates adjusted EBITDA as operating revenue less salaries and benefits and other operating costs as presented on the consolidated statement of income and excludes restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets. Restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets are eliminated as these activities are not related to ongoing operations as of the end of the period. The exclusion of impairment of assets also eliminates the non-cash impact. Adjusted EBITDA is also used by investors and analysts for valuation purposes. The intent of adjusted EBITDA is to provide additional useful information to investors and analysts and financial statement readers and the measure does not have any standardized meaning under IFRS and accordingly may not be comparable to measures used by other companies (including calculating EBITDA on an adjusted basis to exclude restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets). Segmented adjusted EBITDA is calculated in the same manner described above, except that it is calculated using total segment results prior to the elimination of proportionately consolidated results for joint ventures.

Operating earnings/Segmented operating earnings
Operating earnings is used by management to represent the results of ongoing operations inclusive of amortization and depreciation. It is not a recognized measure of financial performance under IFRS. Torstar calculates operating earnings as operating revenue less salaries and benefits and other operating costs and amortization and depreciation. Operating earnings excludes restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets. Restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets are eliminated as these activities are not related to ongoing operations as of the end of the period. Torstar's method of calculating operating earnings (including calculating operating earnings on an adjusted basis to exclude restructuring and other charges and impairment of assets) may differ from other companies and accordingly may not be comparable to measures used by other companies. Segmented operating earnings is calculated in the same manner described above, except that it is calculated using total segment results prior to the elimination of proportionately consolidated results for joint ventures.

Adjusted earnings per share
Adjusted earnings per share is used by management to represent the per share earnings of results of ongoing operations and is not a recognized measure of financial performance under IFRS. Torstar calculates adjusted earnings per share as earnings per share from continuing operations less the per share effect of restructuring and other charges, impairment of assets, non-cash foreign exchange, other income (expense) and change in deferred taxes. Torstar's method of calculating adjusted earnings per share may differ from other companies and accordingly may not be comparable to measures used by other companies.

Operating profit/Segmented operating profit
Operating profit is an additional IFRS measure used by management to represent the results of operations inclusive of impairments and restructuring and other charges and appears in Torstar's consolidated statement of income. Segmented operating profit is calculated in the same manner described above, except that it is calculated using total segment results prior to the elimination of proportionately consolidated results for joint ventures.

Free cash flow
Free cash flow is used by management to represent cash flow generated by the ongoing operations of the business including investing activities. It is not a recognized measure of financial performance under IFRS. Torstar calculates free cash flow as the sum of cash flow from operating activities from continuing operations and cash flow from investing activities from continuing operations excluding movements in current and non-current restricted cash and the net proceeds from the sale of Harlequin. Torstar's method of calculating free cash flow may differ from other companies and accordingly may not be comparable to measures used by other companies.

Forward-looking statements
Certain statements in this press release and in Torstar's oral and written public communications may constitute forward-looking statements that reflect management's expectations regarding Torstar's future growth, financial performance and business prospects and opportunities as of the date of this press release. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "forecast", "expect", "intend", "would", "could", "if", "may" and similar expressions.

This press release includes, among others, forward-looking statements regarding Torstar's expected revenues, expected net savings from restructuring initiatives, expected taxes payable on the Harlequin gain, forecasted revenues in connection with impairment tests, expected corporate expenses, the outlook for 2015, including expected pension expenses and required funding, the expected development and launch, including the timing thereof, of the Toronto Star digital tablet edition and the expected capital spending requirements and operating expenses associated therewith and expected investment spending associated with other growth initiatives. All such statements are made pursuant to the "safe harbour" provisions of applicable Canadian securities legislation. These statements reflect current expectations of management regarding future events and operating performance, and speak only as of the date of this release. In addition, forward-looking statements are provided for the purpose of providing information about management's current expectations and plans relating to the future. Readers are cautioned that reliance on such information may not be appropriate for other purposes.

By their very nature, forward-looking statements require management to make assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. There is a significant risk that predictions, forecasts, conclusions or projections will not prove to be accurate, that management's assumptions may not be accurate and that actual results, performance or achievements may differ significantly from such predictions, forecasts, conclusions or projections expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements in this press release as a number of factors could cause actual future results, conditions, actions or events to differ materially from the targets, outlooks, expectations, goals, estimates or intentions expressed in the forward-looking statements. 

These factors include, but are not limited to: Torstar's ability to operate in highly competitive industries; Torstar's ability to compete with digital media, other newspapers and other forms of media; Torstar's ability to respond to the shift to digital media and the shift by advertisers to other digital platforms; Torstar's ability to attract, grow and retain its digital audience and profitably develop its digital platforms; Torstar's ability to attract and retain advertisers; Torstar's ability to maintain adequate circulation/subscription levels; Torstar's ability to attract and retain readers; Torstar's ability to integrate the technology associated with new digital platforms, including the Toronto Star's new digital tablet product; general economic conditions and customer prospects in the principal markets in which Torstar operates; Torstar's ability to reduce costs; loss of reputation; dependence on third party suppliers and service providers; reliance on technology and information systems; Torstar's ability to execute appropriate strategic growth initiatives; unexpected costs or liabilities related to acquisitions and dispositions; changes in employee future benefit obligations; labour disruptions; newsprint costs; reliance on its printing operations; litigation; privacy, anti-spam, communications, e-commerce and environmental laws, health and safety regulations and other laws and regulations applicable generally to Torstar's businesses; availability of insurance; dependence on key personnel; intellectual property rights; credit risk; product revenue and product liability; changes in deposit interest rates; foreign exchange fluctuations and foreign operations; income tax and other taxes; results of impairment tests and uncertainties associated with critical accounting estimates; and control of the Company by the Voting Trust; 

Torstar cautions that the foregoing list is not exhaustive of all possible factors, as other factors could adversely affect our results. 

In addition, a number of assumptions, including those assumptions specifically identified throughout this press release, were applied in making the forward-looking statements set forth in this press release. Some of the key assumptions include, without limitation, assumptions regarding the performance of the North American economies; tax laws; continued availability of printing operations; availability of financing on appropriate terms; exchange rates; market competition; rates of return and discount rates relating to pension expense and pension plan obligations; expected future revenues; expected future liabilities; expected future cash flows and discount rates relating to valuation of goodwill and intangible assets; and successful development and launch of new products including the Toronto Star digital tablet edition. There is a risk that some or all of these assumptions may prove to be incorrect. 

When relying on our forward-looking statements to make decisions with respect to Torstar and its securities, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. Torstar does not intend, and disclaims any obligation to, update any forward-looking statements, whether written or oral, or whether as a result of new information or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

For more information, please see the discussion of risks affecting Torstar and its businesses in Torstar's 2014 Management's Discussion & Analysis which has been filed on www.sedar.com and is available on Torstar's corporate website www.torstar.com.

Torstar's news releases are available on the Internet at www.torstar.com.

   
   
Torstar Corporation  
Consolidated Statement of Financial Position  
(Thousands of Canadian Dollars)  
   As at
December 31 2014
 As at
December 31 2013
 
Assets        
 Current:        
 Cash and cash equivalents  $251,339  $19,151  
 Restricted cash  16,150     
 Receivables  162,843  261,485  
 Inventories  9,309  29,368  
 Prepaid expenses and other current assets  6,645  47,872  
 Prepaid and recoverable income taxes  2,044  3,765  
Total current assets  448,330  361,641  
Restricted cash  22,750     
Investments in joint ventures  54,531  80,901  
Investments in associated businesses  39,960  40,215  
Property, plant and equipment  125,057  150,665  
Intangible assets  61,610  73,942  
Goodwill  344,417  533,982  
Other assets  9,497  11,465  
Employee benefits  9,243  44,532  
Deferred income tax assets  28,126  51,369  
Total assets  $1,143,521  $1,348,712  
Liabilities and Equity        
 Current:        
 Bank overdraft     $1,741  
 Accounts payable and accrued liabilities  $115,717  202,888  
 Derivative financial instruments     911  
 Provisions  22,583  20,807  
 Income tax payable  11,708  9,810  
 Total current liabilities  150,008  236,157  
Long-term debt     175,898  
Derivative financial instruments     4,125  
Provisions  16,774  16,251  
Other liabilities  9,996  12,425  
Employee benefits  85,315  82,641  
Deferred income tax liabilities  11,708  24,431  
Equity:        
 Share capital  400,577  398,605  
 Contributed surplus  18,708  17,383  
 Retained earnings  447,725  385,589  
 Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)  21  (7,603 )
 Total equity attributable to equity shareholders  867,031  793,974  
 Minority interests  2,689  2,810  
Total equity  869,720  796,784  
Total liabilities and equity  $1,143,521  $1,348,712  
      
      
   
   
Torstar Corporation  
Consolidated Statement of Income  
(Thousands of Canadian Dollars except per share amounts)  
   
   Three months ended December 31   Year ended
December 31
 
   2014   2013 Restated*   2014   2013
Restated*
 
                  
Operating revenue  $233,434   $259,415   $858,134   $935,773  
                  
Salaries and benefits  (91,799 ) (96,114 ) (361,544 ) (388,985 )
Other operating costs  (105,181 ) (114,456 ) (404,520 ) (438,999 )
Amortization and depreciation  (7,081 ) (8,179 ) (30,674 ) (32,228 )
Restructuring and other charges  (10,870 ) (16,123 ) (22,646 ) (33,170 )
Impairment of assets  (63 ) (266 ) (82,935 ) (77,094 )
Operating profit (loss)  18,440   24,277   (44,185 ) (34,703 )
Interest and financing income (costs)  700   (3,995 ) (4,253 ) (16,060 )
Foreign exchange  204   (572 ) (7,656 ) (1,186 )
Income (loss) from joint ventures  1,447   1,529   (9,152 ) (3,733 )
Income (loss) of associated businesses  1,119   (569 ) 194   2,345  
Other income (expense)  5,277   71   3,754   491  
   27,187   20,741   (61,298 ) (52,846 )
Income and other taxes recovery (expense)  (6,300 ) (4,900 ) 11,700   (5,200 )
Net income (loss) from continuing operations  20,887   15,841   (49,598 ) (58,046 )
Gain on sale and income from discontinued operations      5,285   222,662   30,633  
Net income (loss)  $20,887   $21,126   $173,064   ($27,413 )
Attributable to:                 
 Equity shareholders  $20,556   $20,637   $172,685   ($27,984 )
 Minority interests  $331   $489   $379   $571  
                  
Net income (loss) attributable to equity shareholders per Class A (voting) and Class B (non-voting) share:                 
Basic:                 
 From continuing operations  $0.26   $0.20   ($0.62 ) ($0.73 )
 From discontinued operations      $0.06   $2.78   $0.38  
   $0.26   $0.26   $2.16   ($0.35 )
Diluted:                 
 From continuing operations  $0.26   $0.20   ($0.62 ) ($0.73 )
 From discontinued operations      $0.06   $2.77   $0.38  
   $0.26   $0.26   $2.15   ($0.35 )
             
             

*The 2013 comparative amounts have been restated to reflect the classification of Harlequin into discontinued operations.

   
   
Torstar Corporation  
Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows  
(Thousands of Canadian Dollars)  
   
  Three months ended December 31   Year ended
December 31
 
  2014   2013
Restated*
  2014   2013
Restated*
 
Cash was provided by (used in)                
 Operating activities $29,737   $35,958   $63,358   $80,732  
 Investing activities (840 ) (6,646 ) 390,233   (28,720 )
 Financing activities (10,119 ) (32,517 ) (220,065 ) (50,230 )
Increase (decrease) in cash 18,778   (3,205 ) 233,526   1,782  
Effect of exchange rate changes from discontinued operations     400   403   568  
Cash, beginning of period 232,561   20,215   17,410   15,060  
Cash, end of period $251,339   $17,410   $251,339   $17,410  
Operating activities:                
 Net income (loss) from continuing operations $20,887   $15,841   ($49,598 ) ($58,046 )
 Amortization and depreciation 7,081   8,179   30,674   32,228  
 Deferred income taxes 2,900   2,600   (12,400 ) 5,000  
 Loss (income) from joint ventures (1,447 ) (1,529 ) 9,152   3,733  
 Distributions from joint ventures 4,190   1,000   9,250   5,735  
 Loss (income) of associated businesses (1,119 ) 569   (194 ) (2,345 )
 Dividend from associated businesses 303   572   1,222   954  
 Impairment of assets 63   266   82,935   77,094  
 Non-cash employee benefit expense 2,780   7,335   13,840   28,278  
 Employee benefits funding (11,575 ) (16,511 ) (40,134 ) (60,714 )
 Other 1,998   4,945   3,883   1,498  
  26,061   23,267   48,630   33,415  
 Restricted cash 5,820       (16,150 )    
 Decrease (increase) in non-cash working capital (2,144 ) 13,041   22,243   6,454  
Cash provided by operating activities of continuing operations 29,737   36,308   54,723   39,869  
Cash provided by (used in) operating activities of discontinued operations     (350 ) 8,635   40,863  
Cash provided by (used in) operating activities $29,737   $35,958   $63,358   $80,732  
Investing activities:                
 Additions to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets ($5,902 ) ($5,166 ) ($20,947 ) ($17,582 )
 Investment in associated businesses (3,489 ) (485 ) (4,906 ) (3,485 )
 Acquisitions and portfolio investments (5 ) (26 ) (10,759 ) (2,435 )
 Net proceeds from the sale of Harlequin         442,207      
 Restricted cash         (22,750 )    
 Proceeds from the sale of assets 8,375       8,375      
 Other 181   7   622   378  
Cash provided by (used in) investing activities of continuing operations (840 ) (5,670 ) 391,842   (23,124 )
Cash used in investing activities of discontinued operations     (976 ) (1,609 ) (5,596 )
Cash provided by (used in) investing activities ($840 ) ($6,646 ) $390,233   ($28,720 )
Financing activities:                
 Repayment of bankers' acceptances     ($22,416 ) ($190,923 ) ($22,416 )
 Issuance of bankers' acceptances         11,199   13,428  
 Dividends paid ($10,349 ) (10,338 ) (41,400 ) (41,461 )
 Exercise of share options         612      
 Other 230   237   447   219  
Cash used in financing activities ($10,119 ) ($32,517 ) ($220,065 ) ($50,230 )
Cash represented by:                
Attributed to continuing operations:                
 Cash $33,063   $26,542   $33,063   $26,542  
 Cash equivalents - short-term deposits 218,276       218,276      
  $251,339   $26,542   $251,339   $26,542  
Attributed to discontinued operations:                
 Cash equivalents - short-term deposits     $2,940       $2,940  
 Bank overdraft     (12,072 )     (12,072 )
      ($9,132 )     ($9,132 )
Net cash, end of period $251,339   $17,410   $251,339   $17,410  
            
            

*The 2013 comparative amounts have been restated to reflect the classification of Harlequin into discontinued operations.

Contact Information

  • For more information please contact:
    L. DeMarchi
    Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer
    Torstar Corporation
    (416) 869-4776