Canadian telcos BCE and Telus fail to impress despite growth

Thu Aug 8, 2013 12:30pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two of Canada's dominant trio of telecom companies reported that wireless growth boosted their quarterly revenue on Thursday but neither BCE Inc nor Telus Corp posted earnings that impressed the market and their shares slipped.

The shares of both companies were down roughly 0.8 percent. Analysts found fault with the results on diverse fronts, with each company missing expectations on at least some of the analysts' key measurements. RBC, for instance, said BCE missed its expectations on wireless subscriber growth and average bills, while Telus disappointed it on fixed-line TV subscribers.

"We continue to prefer Telus for fundamentals and valuation but see limited downside risk in BCE shares," Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose wrote in a note to clients.

BCE, the Montreal-based parent of Bell Canada, reported a 22 percent fall in second-quarter profit from the same quarter in 2012 as one-time factors, including a favorable tax resolution in the year-before quarter, complicated the comparison.

The company, however, raised its 2013 revenue forecast following its acquisition earlier this year of Astral Media, which owns radio stations, cable-TV channels and a billboard network.

Telus posted a 13.5 percent rise in adjusted quarterly profit, though its net income slipped 4.3 percent due to higher restructuring costs. Telus's fixed-line unit bucked industry trends with renewed revenue expansion.

Telus competes against cable company Shaw Communications Inc for television and Internet customers in Western Canada, and against Rogers Communications Inc and BCE's Bell for wireless subscribers across the country.

Rogers is the third of Canada's big three telecom companies. Last month it reported rises in profit and revenue that were in line with analyst expectations.   Continued...

A pedestrian is reflected in the window of a Telus store while using a mobile phone in Ottawa February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie