Shaw profit up on higher rates, raises dividend
(Reuters) - Canada's Shaw Communications Inc said on Wednesday that quarterly profit and revenue rose as higher cable and satellite rates offset a net loss of video cable and satellite television subscribers.
It also said it would boost its dividend by 5 percent.
Operating income before amortization jumped 9.2 percent in the media division in the fiscal first quarter that ended November 30 as advertising and subscriber revenue rose.
Shaw, the dominant cable provider in Western Canada, also boosted revenue and operating income before amortization in its bigger cable and satellite divisions.
From late March, the company will pay a monthly dividend equivalent to an annual C$1.02 ($1.03) per Class B share, up from 97 Canadian cents.
Video customers fell by 23,912, or 1.1 percent, during the quarter, following a similar drop in the same period last year. "Direct to home" satellite customers fell by 4,021, or 0.4 percent, following gains in the year-earlier quarter.
"Subscriber metrics were generally lighter than expected, partly explained by prior year restatements in the company's cable subscriber bases," National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine wrote in a note to clients.
Nonetheless, Shine said the results were better than expected, due in part to higher cable margins and the media business. Shaw operates the Global network, a competitor to BCE Inc's CTV, as well as a portfolio of specialty channels.
A resurgent Telus Corp has been pushing an Internet-based television product to win over cable customers in Western Canada. Shaw first hit back with discounts, but has since eased back on promotions.
"We will remain focused on disciplined and sustainable pricing strategies, customer retention, and long-term growth," Chief Executive Brad Shaw said in a press release.
Shaw, which like Corus Entertainment Inc is controlled by the Shaw family, said first-quarter net income rose to C$235 million, or 49 Canadian cents a share, from C$202 million, or 43 Canadian cents, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had expected 45 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue at the Calgary-based company rose 3.1 percent to C$1.32 billion, in line with the average estimate of C$1.31 billion.
Shares were little changed, up 0.2 percent at C$22.59 by late morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
($1 = $0.99 Canadian)
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by John Wallace and Dan Grebler)