Rogers profit jumps on iPhone sales

Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:52am EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski and Scott Anderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote) posted an 84 percent spike in quarterly profit on robust sales of Apple's (AAPL.O: Quote) iPhone, but it lowered the full-year outlook for its wireless unit to reflect higher costs of activating new customers.

The Canadian telecommunications and cable television provider, whose shares rose more than 5 percent after the announcement, also sought to reassure investors and analysts about the strength of the company as it enters the economic slowdown.

Rogers, which owns Canada's biggest wireless service provider, combines its cellphone offerings with high-speed Internet and television -- services that its CEO said customers are unlikely to part with, even in tough times.

"Compared to many companies today, we are extremely well financed to weather a storm -- even a big one. Our balance sheet is rock solid," Ted Rogers said in a conference call with analysts.

Third-quarter profit rose to $495 million, or 78 cents per share, from $269 million, or 42 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

Total revenue climbed to $2.98 billion, up from $2.61 billion.

National Bank Financial analyst Greg MacDonald said the results were in line with his estimates. Given the company's ability to generate cash, he said, Rogers could soon announce a dividend increase.

"With double-digit operating cash flow growth, roughly $2 billion in expected free cash flow for 2009 and no debt due until 2011, we continue to believe this stock is very well-positioned to outperform in the current market," MacDonald wrote in a note to clients.   Continued...

<p>A pedestrian uses his mobile phone while walking past a Rogers store in Ottawa July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>