Torstar Loses $7.4 Million in 1st Quarter

CBJ — Torstar posted a $7.4 million quarterly loss in the opening quarter, but the losses were lower than last year during the same time period due to internal cost reductions and provincial tax credits, which offset weaker revenue from advertising. Last year’s loss amounted to $14.5 million.

Torstar — publisher of the Toronto Star and other newspapers — had just under $116 million in revenue from all operating segments in three months ended March 31, down from nearly $129 million a year earlier.

Chief executive John Boynton told analysts in a conference call before the company’s annual shareholder meeting that Torstar had made “good progress” towards developing new revenue streams from digital media.

“We ended the quarter with over 15,000 digital-only subscribers to the Star, and announced a partnership with Apple which has the potential to … generate additional subscription revenue from a broader national audience,” Boynton said.

Torstar chief financial officer Lorenzo DeMarchi told analysts that the company has submitted claims for an additional $39.6 million of the tax credits, and is awaiting further approvals from the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA is expected to complete its reviews for half of that amount later in 2019 and the balance in 2020.

As for a new federal refundable tax credit, covering 25% of salaries and wages paid to eligible newsroom employees of qualified news organizations, DeMarchi said Torstar is still assessing the potential benefit.