TORONTO Aug 7 Two of Canada's largest telecom
companies reported strong quarterly wireless growth on Thursday
as they chased down the wireless market leader, but fixed-line
performance helped Telus Corp to outshine rival BCE Inc
BCE and Telus share a national network as they compete with
the country's biggest wireless carrier, Rogers Communications
Inc, which said last month it added 38,000 postpaid
wireless customers in the second quarter.
Telus said it signed up 78,000 net contract wireless
subscribers, who typically pay more to use high-end smartphones,
in the quarter. BCE, which operates under the Bell brand, signed
up 66,186 such customers.
Telus said its average wireless customer, excluding those
added in its acquisition of budget operator Public Mobile, paid
C$62.51 a month, compared with C$59.49 at Bell and C$59.18 at
Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose noted the strong
wireless performance by Telus, the only major Canadian telco
also enjoying fixed-line revenue and earnings expansion. He was
also impressed by BCE.
"As with Telus, these results should allay fears of a big
slowdown in incumbent wireless growth," Ghose said in a research
The Canadian government is eager to introduce a fourth
wireless competitor in each of the country's regions, a policy
that hangs over the prospects of the three big incumbents.
Telus reported a 33 percent jump in quarterly profit while
BCE, Canada's largest telecom company, posted a 6 percent gain,
boosted by its acquisition of Astral Media.
Vancouver-based Telus competes against cable company Shaw
Communications Inc for television, phone and Internet
customers in Western Canada, and against Rogers and Bell for
wireless subscribers nationally. Montreal-based BCE is most
active in Eastern Canada.
Earlier this week, BCE said it had won regulatory approval
for its offer to buy the 56 percent of Atlantic Canada affiliate
Bell Aliant it doesn't already own.
Consolidating Bell Aliant is expected to protect BCE's
dividend growth profile for a year or two as the industry braces
for an increase in competitive turbulence.
BCE said its media arm was hit by soft advertising demand
and higher content costs in the quarter, and would have notched
a 2 percent drop in revenue if Astral had been included in its
Telus posted net income of C$381 million ($350 million), or
62 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$286 million, or 44
cents a share, a year earlier. Operating revenue rose 4.4
percent to C$2.95 billion.
Analysts, on average, had expected 58 Canadian cents a share
on revenue of C$2.95 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
BCE, meanwhile, said net income rose to C$606 million, or 78
Canadian cents a share, from C$571 million, or 74 Canadian cents
a share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, earnings were 82 Canadian cents a
share. Operating revenue rose 4.4 percent to C$5.22
Analysts had, on average, expected earnings of 84 Canadian
cents a share on revenue of C$5.19 billion.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)