UPDATE 1-Canada's BCE posts higher profit on flat revenue

Thu May 9, 2013 7:57am EDT
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TORONTO May 9 (Reuters) - BCE Inc, Canada's biggest telecom provider, reported higher profit on flat revenue on Thursday, helped by earnings growth in its wireless and media divisions.

The Montreal-based parent of Bell Canada said it signed up almost 60,000 net postpaid subscribers for its wireless service in the first quarter and the average monthly bill of a Bell wireless customer rose almost 4 percent to C$55.92.

BCE, which together with Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp dominates the Canadian wireless market, said it remains on track to hit its earnings targets for the full year.

Postpaid subscriber figures are watched closely because those customers, who often sign multiyear contracts and use the latest smartphones, typically pay four times more each month than prepaid subscribers.

Churn, the average proportion of Bell subscribers that cancel their service each month, improved to 1.25 percent for postpaid customers, from 1.35 percent a year earlier.

BCE said its first-quarter net earnings rose to C$566 million, or 73 Canadian cents a share, from C$531 million, or 69 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Operating revenue was C$4.92 billion, compared with C$4.91 billion a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 77 cents a share. Analysts had on average expected BCE to earn 71 Canadian cents a share on revenue of C$4.96 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.   Continued...