Baseball's Blue Jays, wireless growth boost Rogers Communications

Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:25am EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

(Reuters) - Canada's Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote) reported a surprise jump in third-quarter profit on Thursday that sent its shares to a multi-year high, helped by impressive wireless customer growth and baseball success that boosted its media business.

Rogers owns the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the their home stadium, which has been packed this month for playoff games broadcast on Rogers' TV channels.

Shares in the Toronto-based company jumped 2.9 percent to C$51.11 in early trade, their highest level since April 2013.

Rogers, which has the largest share of Canada's wireless market, added 77,000 net postpaid wireless subscribers, who typically spend much more than those who prepay for service. It also gained 77,000 prepay customers.

"Wireless postpaid net additions were the positive surprise" while media gains accounted for much of the upside over financial expectations, RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds wrote in a note.

Rogers had suffered two straight quarters of net wireless defections earlier in the year as CEO Guy Laurence moved away from offering discounts to maintain market share.

"Our results show we've got the right plan, we're executing with discipline and we are delivering steady improvement. I expect this progress to continue," Laurence said on a call with financial analysts.

Wireless profit was hit by the cost of subsidizing more smartphones, while churn - the percentage of customers leaving each month - was flat at a level much higher than rival Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote).   Continued...

A sign is pictured on top of the Rogers Communications Inc. building on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, April 21, 2015.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch