BCE profit falls on taxes, shares slip

Thu Nov 1, 2012 10:58am EDT
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(Reuters) - BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote), Canada's biggest telecom provider, said on Thursday its quarterly profit had fallen from a year earlier, when lower tax expenses boosted results, and its shares fell even as it reported strong wireless and media results.

BCE, Bell Canada's parent company, offered no news on its proposed acquisition of Astral Media Inc ACMa.TO. BCE recently delayed the C$3 billion deal's closing after it was blocked by Canada's broadcast regulator on competition grounds.

In media, BCE said coverage of the London Olympics , led by C TV, helped boost revenue. It acquired CTV, Canada's biggest private broadcaster, last year.

In wireless, the company added almost twice as many lucrative postpaid wireless subscribers in the third quarter as its rival Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote).

"The results were in line with expectations, but wireless results were superb," said Desjardins Securities analyst Maher Yaghi.

Postpaid subscriber numbers are watched closely because those customers, w ho often sign multi-year contracts, typically pay more each month than prepaid subscribers.

Like Rogers, BCE signed up more new smartphone customers, raising the proportion of its postpaid users with smartphones to 60 percent from 43 percent a year earlier.

The company said some of the subscriber gains were in western Canada, where it has opened more retail outlets. Yaghi said a focus on growing in that region seemed to be paying off.

"The economy is stronger," he said. "There's more business customers, there's more international calling south of the border, because of the type of industries they work in."   Continued...