June 27, 2008 / 12:30 PM / 9 years ago

Shaw Communications profit higher, gains customers

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) reported a 39-percent increase in third-quarter profit on Thursday, as customer gains and higher rates helped lift results for Canada’s No. 2 cable and satellite TV company.

Shaw said it earned C$128 million ($128 million), or 30 Canadian cents per share, in the three-month period ended May 31. That compares with a profit of C$91.6 million, or 21 Canadian cents a share, in the same period last year.

Analysts had expected profit of 27 Canadian cents a share before items and revenue of C$782 million, according to a Reuters Estimates survey.

Revenue grew by 13 percent to C$792 million.

Shaw said it cannot comment on its wireless plans because Canada’s auction of airwaves used to deliver wireless services is still ongoing. Analysts question if Shaw will develop a wireless network on its own, with a partner, or not at all.

The Calgary-based company said it added 57,700 digital phone lines in the quarter. It gained 32,658 digital customers, 23,185 Internet subscribers, and 2,495 basic cable customers. It also added 4,686 direct-to-home satellite subscribers.

Operating income before amortization rose 15 percent to C$356 million said Shaw, which reaffirmed its forecast for full-year free cash flow of about C$450 million.

Free cash flow fell to C$81 million in the quarter, from C$104 million in the same period last year on higher capital investment to purchase land and buildings.

($1=$1 Canadian)

Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Janet Guttsman

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