Bell Canada parent profit rises on strong wireless unit

Thu Feb 7, 2013 11:58am EST
 

By Allison Martell and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote), parent of Bell Canada and the country's biggest telecom provider, reported higher quarterly profit and raised its dividend on Thursday as its wireless and media divisions boosted the bottom line.

But the company, which together with Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote) and Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote) dominates the Canadian market, said it expected revenue to grow by 2 percent at the most this year, compared with 3 percent growth in 2012. It said it sees earnings for 2013 rising slightly.

For the final quarter of 2012, profit was in line with expectations as strong performances in wireless and media more than offset Bell Canada's weaker wireline business.

BCE's shares were little changed on Thursday morning, slipping 0.02 percent at C$44.51 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose described the wireless results as very strong and said they indicate that Bell is taking market share from Rogers.

Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) iPhone and smartphones running Google Inc's (GOOG.O: Quote) Android operating system sold well through the holiday shopping season, BCE said.

Net postpaid subscribers rose by nearly 144,000, 9 percent more than the net gains in the same quarter last year. Postpaid subscriber figures are watched closely because those customers, who often sign multiyear contracts, typically pay more each month than prepaid subscribers.

Churn, the average proportion of subscribers that cancel their service each month, improved to 1.3 percent for postpaid customers, from 1.5 percent a year earlier. Average revenue per user, or ARPU, rose 4.1 percent to C$56.72 a month.   Continued...