UPDATE 2-Rogers Communications halts wireless exits; net profit drops

Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:49am EDT
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(Recasts with details on wireless. Adds share reaction, analyst comment, CEO quote)

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, July 23 (Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc added wireless customers in the second quarter after two straight quarters of net defections, a key milestone in the broad strategic overhaul the Canadian telecoms and media company has embarked on.

Reporting quarterly financial results on Thursday, the company said it added 24,000 net postpaid wireless subscribers, who typically spend much more than those who prepay for service. It also gained 8,000 prepay customers.

Under Chief Executive Officer Guy Laurence, who joined in late 2013 with a reputation for shaking up corporate culture, Rogers has shied away from offering customer discounts despite sharp competition for subscribers.

"Subscriber metrics showed improvement and the steady financials indicate that management's strategic decision to run off low-profit historical retention plans appears to be the right one," Desjardins analyst Maher Yaghi wrote in a note.

Rogers shares were 1.6 percent higher at C$44.52.

Net income dropped 10 percent, although adjusted operating profit came in a touch above analysts' expectations.

Rogers' media division posted a sharp jump in profit and revenue on the back of advertising connected to its first season of broadcasting National Hockey League games. The unit contributed 17 percent of total operating revenue, which rose 6 percent from a year earlier to C$3.4 billion ($2.6 billion).   Continued...