Canadian telecom company BCE, Inc. (BCE: Quote,BCE.TO: Quote), the parent company of Bell Canada, reported Wednesday a profit for the second quarter that increased 31 percent from last year, reflecting improved performance at Bell wireless and Bell Media.
The prior-year result was weighed down by a significant charge.
Adjusted earnings per share topped analysts' expectations, while operating revenues missed their estimates by a whisker. The company also raised its earnings guidance for the full-year 2012.
"Bell enjoyed a robust quarter of financial results, highlighted by exceptional wireless and media EBITDA growth, margin expansion, and significant increases in earnings and cash flow," CFO Siim Vanaselja said in a statement.
BCE reported net earnings of C$773 million or C$1.00 per share for the second quarter, higher than C$590 million or C$0.76 per share in the prior-year quarter.
Results for the year-ago quarter included C$164 million of non-recurring charge for the CRTC tangible benefits obligation incurred on the CTV acquisition.
Excluding special items, net earnings for the quarter rose to C$788 million or C$1.02 per share from C$663 million or C$0.86 per share in the year-ago quarter.
On average, 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn C$0.81 per share for the second quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.
BCE's operating revenues for the quarter edged down 0.6 percent to C$4.92 billion from C$4.96 billion in the same quarter last year, and missed nine Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of C$4.97 billion by a whisker.
Operating revenues for Bell Canada, including the Bell Wireless and Bell Wireline segments, for the second quarter edged down 0.5 percent to C$4.34 billion from the year-ago quarter, reflecting increased contributions from Bell Wireless and Bell Media.
Wireless operating revenues grew 6.7 percent, while wireline operating revenues declined 3.9 percent from last year. Operating revenues for Bell Media, formed after the acquisitions of CTV in April 2011, edged up 0.9 percent, while Bell Aliant's revenues edged down 0.7 percent from a year ago.
Bell Wireless postpaid net activations increased 8.2 percent to 102,067, and Bell Fibe TV growth accelerated with net activations of 38,477, up from 14,367 last year.
Blended Average Revenue Per User or ARPU, increased 4.5 percent year-over-year to C$55.37, reflecting strong mobile data revenue growth of 31.1 percent amid accelerated smartphone adoption and usage. Smartphones represented 55 percent of total postpaid subscribers. Blended churn increased to 1.7 percent.
BCE also declared a $0.025 per share increase in quarterly dividend to C$0.5675 per share, payable on October 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 14, 2012.
Looking ahead to fiscal 2012, the company raised its adjusted earnings guidance to a range of C$3.15 to C$3.20 per share from prior forecast range of C$3.13 to C$3.18 per share. Street is currently looking for full-year 2012 earnings of C$3.16 per share.
BCE closed Tuesday's regular trading session at $43.33, up $0.47 on a volume of 0.66 million shares. BCE.TO closed on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$43.25, up C$0.52 on a volume of 1.29 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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