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Montreal’s Yellow Media posts lower earnings on weaker revenue

Yellow Media has said it will hire about 200 more employees this year and try to increase advertisers as the directories publisher continues to transform itself into a digital company.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Yellow Media Ltd., publisher of the Yellow Pages directories, has reported a lower first-quarter profit of $39.2-million as it continues its transformation to a digital company.

The Montreal company earned $1.43 per share, compared with $1.19 per share on earnings of $53.5-million in the same quarter of 2013.

Revenue was down 12 per cent to $223.2-million, compared with $253.3-million in the same period last year.

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During the first quarter of 2014, consolidated digital revenue represented 46.6 per cent of total revenue, up from 39.1 per cent during the same period in 2013.

Print revenue decreased in the quarter almost 23 per cent year-over-year to reach $119.3-million.

Yellow Media competes with big search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing as well as small digital companies to attract consumers who are on the Internet to search for businesses and services.

"Supported by a healthier capital structure, the first phase of our transformation established a solid digital foundation for us to build upon," CEO and president Julien Billot said in a news release on Thursday.

Yellow Media has said it will hire about 200 more employees this year and try to increase advertisers as the directories publisher continues to transform itself into a digital company.

The company has said its goal is to increase digital revenue to 50 per cent but not at the expense of getting rid of its print directories.

Yellow Media has already expanded from business listings to digital services, including producing videos, building websites and Facebook pages for small- and medium-sized companies. That's a long way from its beginnings in 1908 when it printed its first directory and was still part of Bell Canada.

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The transition to a digital company has been difficult at times for Yellow Media. The company had a major financial restructuring in recent years, cancelled its dividend and sold some of its assets. The company also cut about 10 per cent of its work force, mainly in jobs related to print directories.

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