Significant Profitability Improvement for Transcontinental in 2002
Press release from the issuing company
December 12 -- MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- For the year ended October 31, 2002, Transcontinental's consolidated revenues remained stable at $1.8 billion. On a comparable basis, applying the new accounting rules to fiscal 2001, income from continuing operations increased 25%, from $100 million to $125 million; on a per share basis, earnings increased 18%, from $2.50 in 2001 to $2.95 in 2002, despite a higher average number of shares outstanding, which rose from 40.1 million in 2001 to 42.3 million in 2002. Cash flow from operations before changes in non-cash working capital reached $229 million in 2002 compared to $197 million in 2001, up 16%.
Transcontinental ended its fiscal year with a strong fourth quarter. Consolidated revenues grew 5%, from $472 million in 2001 to $496 million in 2002. On a comparable basis, income from continuing operations increased 29%, from $31 million in the fourth quarter of 2001 to $40 million in the fourth quarter of 2002; on a per share basis it rose 23%, from $0.74 in 2001 to $0.91 in 2002, despite an increase in the average number of shares outstanding, which rose from 41.3 million in 2001 to 44.3 million in 2002. Cash flow from operations before changes in non-cash working capital grew to $68 million in 2002, an increase of 12% over $61 million in 2001.
On an annual basis, operating income before depreciation and amortization grew 12%, from $270 million in 2001 to $303 million in 2002. Operating income margin before depreciation and amortization increased substantially, from 15.2% in 2001 to 17.1% in 2002. In the fourth quarter, operating income before depreciation and amortization grew 19%, from $78 million in 2001 to $93 million in 2002. Operating income margin before depreciation and amortization increased to a record 18.8% in 2002 versus 16.6% in 2001.
"As we announced to financial markets at the end of the third quarter, we reached the upper end of the range we projected for earnings per common share," said Rémi Marcoux, Chairman of the Board and CEO. "This improvement in profitability stems from disciplined financial management coupled with the decline in interest rates, our focus on productivity improvement through our Horizon 2005 project, and our ability to integrate our many acquisitions during the year.
"In general, our targeted growth strategy, which is aimed at achieving a leading position in both geographic terms and in niches with high growth potential, makes us less vulnerable to fluctuations in advertising spending because our activities are more evenly balanced with regards to exposure to economic cycles. Our customer base is also well dispersed between the product types we offer and the various segments of the advertising market."
As of the first quarter of 2002, the Corporation adopted the new accounting standard issued by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants with respect to the accounting of goodwill and other intangible assets. Under the new rules, goodwill and intangible assets with an indefinite life will no longer be amortized, but rather be subject to an annual impairment test. Furthermore, including the one-time charge of $52 million posted in 2001 related to the Corporation discontinuing its activities in the Americ Disc compact-disc manufacturing joint venture, net income was $125 million (or $2.95 per common share) in 2002, compared to $21 million (or $0.52 per common share) in 2001.
On October 31, 2002, the Corporation's net indebtedness stood at $387 million compared to $222 million on October 31, 2001. The net debt to total capitalization ratio was 34%, significantly less than the 45% target set by the Corporation. With its solid balance sheet, Transcontinental is in an excellent position to pursue its growth strategy.
"We expect difficult market conditions to continue in fiscal 2003," said Rémi Marcoux. "In North America's highly competitive commercial printing market, we do not expect to see any significant increase in advertising spending from customers before the second half of fiscal 2003, which will likely have a negative impact on internal growth. However, results from acquisitions made in 2002, as well as the many cross-selling, productivity improvement and cost-reduction initiatives implemented as part of our Horizon 2005 project should allow Transcontinental to continue to show earnings growth. Given this context, management is projecting earnings per common share of $3.20to $3.35 in 2003, an increase of 8% to 14% compared to fiscal 2002."
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