January 15, 2009 / 3:42 PM / 9 years ago

Shaw Communications profit up, stock moves higher

OTTAWA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Shaw Communications Inc SJRb.TO shares rose on Thursday after Canada’s No. 2 cable- and satellite-TV company reported a 9.7 percent increase in quarterly profit, reflecting customer gains despite a shaky economy.

Shaw said late on Wednesday that it earned C$123 million ($97.6 million), or 29 Canadian cents a share, in the three months ended Nov. 30, compared with a profit of C$112 million, or 26 Canadian cents a share, in the same period last year.

Closely watched operating income before amortization rose 10.5 percent to C$367.8 million from C$332.9 million.

Revenue increased by 10 percent to C$817.5 million and free cash flow rose to C$113 million from C$90 million.

Shares in the Calgary, Alberta-based company gained 2.3 percent in early trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange to C$20.40. In New York, the stock rose 1.7 percent to $16.27.

Haywood Securities analyst Rob Goff said the financial results were “solid”, with subscriber growth demonstrating the “resiliency of the Canadian consumer of telecom”.

Shaw said it added 56,597 digital phone lines in the quarter. It also gained 60,717 digital customers, 31,152 Internet subscribers, 9,198 basic cable customers, and 448 direct-to-home satellite subscribers.

“A new digital rental strategy was implemented late in October and we are seeing early success with a record quarterly gain of over 60,000 customers,” Chief Executive Jim Shaw said in a statement.

The company maintained its 2009 forecast for free cash flow of at least C$500 million, an approximate 10 percent increase in cable unit service operating income before amortization, and “modest” growth in its satellite business. ($1=$1.26 Canadian) (Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Peter Galloway)

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