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Corus hikes dividend, reports earnings as its CEO predicts 'pivotal' year

TORONTO - Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B) reported stronger first-quarter financial results and raised its dividend Tuesday.

The owner of several specialty television channels, radio stations and the Nelvana animation studio said the dividend on its class B shares, which is paid monthly, would increase to a total of $1.09 per year, up from $1.02.

The dividend payment on its class A shares will increase to an annual total of $1.085 per share.

"We have again benefited from our disciplined focus on cost controls, delivering excellent margins this quarter in the face of slow economic growth and tough year-over-year comparables in our merchandising business," Corus president and CEO John Cassaday said in a statement.

Cassaday said it was a pivotal year for Corus with the acquisition of full ownership of Teletoon from its partner Astral Media and strong ratings for its core TV brands.

Corus reported a profit of $150.9 million or $1.78 per diluted share for the quarter ended Nov. 30 compared with $52.2 million or 62 cents per diluted share a year ago.

The results included a $127.9-million gain on the value of its stake in Teletoon and $21.9 million in acquisition and restructuring costs as well as other one-time charges.

Corus acquired the remaining 50 per cent of Teletoon after Astral was required to sell its stake in order to win approval for its takeover by BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), owner of Bell Canada, CTV and other media outlets.

Excluding the one-time items, Corus said it earned an adjusted profit of $55.2 million or 65 cents per share, up from $52.2 million or 63 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue for the three months ended Nov. 30 was $226 million, up from $209 million a year.

Analysts were looking for 62 cents of adjusted earnings with $227.8 million of revenue for the three months ended Nov. 30, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The revenue growth came from the Corus television division, which rose to $177.9 million from $157.6 million revenue, while revenue at its radio division declined to $48 million from $52.3 million.

The Canadian Press

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