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Quebecor posts loss as it writes down media business

Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 | 10:19 AM ET

TORONTO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Canada's Quebecor Inc posted a third-quarter net loss on Thursday, writing down the value of its media assets as the newspaper industry grapples with the transition to digital distribution.

The company said it had a loss of C$167.8 million ($161 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, compared to a profit of C$17.1 million in the same period a year ago.

However its telecom unit, by far the largest part of the company, posted an 8 percent rise in operating income as it added Internet, cable television and wireless telephone customers and was able to charge them more.

The company's revenue increased almost 2 percent to C$1.08 billion, slightly above analyst expectations.

The Quebec-focused company recorded a C$305.8 million hit in its news and entertainment segments to reflect weak market conditions and the impact of switching to digital in newspapers, books and music.

Quebecor's Sun newspaper chain in July cut 360 jobs and closed eight community newspapers and three free dailies as advertisers flee the print medium and consumers ditch subscriptions in favor of digital access for their smartphones and tablets.

The company's news media division increased operating income by almost 15 percent, while revenue fell almost 9 percent.

"The stronger results at our media subsidiaries show that the restructuring and repositioning initiatives we have taken over the past few years are bearing fruit," Quebecor chief executive Robert D├ępatie said in the earnings statement.

On an adjusted basis, the company said it earned 51 Canadian cents a share. Analysts had on average expected Quebecor to earn 41 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its shares were up 1.5 percent at C$25.88 in early trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.