November 1, 2012 / 12:06 PM / 5 years ago

BCE profit falls but operating results improve

(Reuters) - BCE Inc (BCE.TO), Canada’s biggest telecom provider, reported on Thursday lower profit compared with a year earlier, when lower income tax expenses had boosted earnings, but revenue rose, thanks in part to wireless growth.

Operating results at Bell Canada’s parent were lifted by its media segment and wireless, where the company won new customers and upgraded more subscribers to lucrative smartphone contracts.

Bell added 148,502 net postpaid subscribers, 17.1 percent more than in the same quarter last year, and more than rival Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO), which said last week it had added 76,000 net postpaid subscribers.

Postpaid customers, who often sign multi-year contracts, typically pay more each month than prepaid subscribers.

Like Rogers, BCE raised the proportion of its postpaid customers using smartphones, to 60 percent at the end of the quarter from 43 percent a year earlier.

Smartphone growth helped boost revenue as BCE’s wireless customers paid an average of C$57.30 each month, up from C$55.01 a year earlier.

BY THE NUMBERS

Overall, BCE’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 4.0 percent.

Net income attributed to shareholders for the third quarter fell to C$569 million ($569 million), or 74 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$642 million, or 83 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding severance and acquisition costs and other items, adjusted earnings fell to C$588 million, or 76 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$724 million, or 93 Canadian cents, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 77 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Operating revenue rose 1.5 percent to C$4.98 billion, slightly above average analyst estimate of C$4.94 billion.

BCE recently delayed the closing of its proposed acquisition of Astral Media Inc ACMa.TO after Canada’s broadcast regulator blocked the C$3 billion deal.

In vetoing the proposal acquisition, the Canadian Radio-Television and Communications Commission said Astral’s media properties would give too much market power to BCE.

BCE has asked the federal government to intervene and direct to “adhere to its existing policies” and reconsider. The ruling can also be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal.

$1 = $1.00 Canadian Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and James Dalgleish

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