* Telus profit jumps 13 pct; BCE up less than 7 pct
* Telus stock rises after results; BCE dips
* Wireless growth helps both companies
* Telus results gets Optik TV boost
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, May 9 Canadian telecoms provider Telus
Corp promised three more years of dividend growth on
Thursday as it reported a 13 percent rise in quarterly profit,
results that outshone cross-Canada rival BCE Inc.
Both companies scored in the fast-growing wireless space as
consumers grasp for the latest smartphones to stream video and
other data. But Telus also managed to increase its fixed-line
business on the back of its Optik TV product and it raised its
2013 dividend by 11.5 percent.
BCE profit rose 6.6 percent, and the company said it remains
on track to hit its full-year earnings targets.
Telus shares were up 1.8 percent at C$37.35 on Thursday
morning, while BCE shares were down 0.4 percent at C$47.72.
Vancouver-based Telus competes against cable company Shaw
Communications Inc for television and Internet
customers in Western Canada and against Rogers Communications
Inc and BCE's Bell for wireless subscribers across the
"Things are going exceptionally well at Telus," said
Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose. "Bell is obviously at a
much earlier stage both in terms of subscribers as well as
profitability" for its fixed-line unit.
Telus and Bell both signed up some 59,000 net new postpaid
wireless subscribers, who typically pay more to use high-end
smartphones on multiyear contracts. Market leader Rogers added
32,000 in the quarter.
Telus said its wireless customers paid an average of C$60.04
a month for service, as booming data usage more than offset
falling voice calls. Bell's average bill was C$55.92.
Telus, unlike its biggest rivals, has not acquired companies
producing the content distributed over its network. But it has
moved forcefully to increase fixed-line revenue through Optik
TV, an Internet-based product that is challenging Shaw's
dominant cable television position in Western Canada.
Telus said it added 34,000 TV customers in the quarter,
compared with the 47,000 Bell added with its equivalent Internet
TV product, Fibe, which is at a much earlier stage of
deployment. Telus added 16,000 Internet subscribers, versus less
than 2,000 for Bell.
BCE has in recent years moved aggressively to secure
ownership of news, sports, films and other content distributed
via its television and Internet services.
BCE said revenue at its Bell Media unit was flat as a weak
advertising market offset higher fees from rival distributors.
The company is currently seeking regulatory approval for its
revised C$3 billion bid for its biggest content provider, Astral
The regulator rejected BCE's first offer for Astral in
October, citing the inordinate influence it would give BCE.
BCE has since agreed to divest some Astral pay and specialty
television channels, although critics say the smaller deal does
not preclude Bell from setting exorbitant rates for the premium
content it owns.
BCE bought CTV, the country's largest private broadcaster,
in 2011. Last year, it teamed up with Rogers to buy the owner of
the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs and a stable of
other sports assets.
BY THE NUMBERS
Telus reported net income of C$362 million, or 56 Canadian
cents a share, in the three months to the end of March, compared
with C$319 million, or 49 cents a share, a year ago.
Operating revenue rose 5 percent to C$2.76 billion.
Analysts had on average expected Telus to earn 54 Canadian
cents a share on revenue of C$2.78 billion, according to Thomson
BCE first-quarter net earnings rose to C$566 million, or 73
Canadian cents a share, from C$531 million, or 69 Canadian
cents, a year earlier on little changed operating revenue of
C$4.92 billion. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 77
cents a share. Analysts had on average expected BCE to earn 71
Canadian cents a share on revenue of C$4.96 billion.
"Telus fired on both cylinders and clearly has the stronger
balance sheet and cash flow profile," Canaccord's Ghose said.
Telus said it would aim to buy back up to C$500 million of
its own stock this year and for the next three years.
Telus said it plans to continue with semi-annual dividend
increases in the 10 percent per-annum range through to 2016.
(editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Janet Guttsman and Matthew Lewis)