November 6, 2014 / 1:27 PM / 4 years ago

BCE beats estimates with profit jump as wireless, Internet TV shine

TORONTO (Reuters) - BCE Inc, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, beat expectations with a 10 percent jump in adjusted third-quarter profit on Thursday, thanks to strength in landline Internet and TV, and wireless subscriber growth.

The Bell logo is seen on the company's building in downtown Montreal February 9, 2011. Montreal-based BCE Inc, the parent company of Bell Canada, will report its fourth quarter results on Thursday. REUTERS/Shaun Best

Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose called it a “surprisingly strong quarter in both wireless and wireline” in a note to clients.

The Montreal-based company, which operates under the Bell brand, earned net income attributable to shareholders of C$600 million, or 77 Canadian cents a share in the three months through Sept. 30, compared with C$343 million, or 44 cents a share, a year ago. Its revenue was up 1.9 percent at C$5.20 billion.

On an adjusted basis, BCE earned 83 cents a share. Analysts on average expected BCE to earn an adjusted 77 cents a share, on revenue of C$5.15 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Bell said it signed up almost 91,000 net contract wireless subscribers, who typically pay more to use high-end smartphones. In comparison, wireless market leader Rogers Communications Inc won just 17,000 such customers in the same period, and Bell’s network-sharing partner and rival Telus added 113,000.

Bell said its average wireless customer paid C$61.73 a month for service, a 5.9 percent increase, compared with C$60.96 at Rogers and C$C$64.51 at Telus.

Postpaid churn, the percentage of those valuable customers leaving each month, was stable at 1.20 percent in the quarter.

Bell added 61,500 Internet-based Fibe TV customers and 49,500 Internet subscribers in the quarter, while satellite television gave up 37,000 users.

Bell has spent billions to buy media assets so it can send its own content to customers’ TV screens, computers and mobile devices, but the payoff has so far been less than stellar.

Bell Media revenues were flat but adjusted earnings slipped on the back of significantly higher costs for sports broadcast rights, BCE said.

BCE earlier this month closed a deal to acquire the stock it didn’t already own in regional affiliate Bell Aliant. It said it plans to spend more than C$2 billion over five years to expand broadband in the four Atlantic provinces served by Bell Aliant.

Bell Aliant earnings slipped on flat revenue as it spent to improve its network.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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