Shaw Communications loses customers, profit falls 8 percent in third quarter

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian cable television provider Shaw Communications Inc SJRb.TO reported an 8 percent fall in third-quarter profit on Thursday and said it would likely reach the lower end of its full-year operating income target.

Calgary-based Shaw, which competes with Telus Corp T.TO for customers in Canada's West, said it lost more than 27,000 television subscribers across cable and satellite and almost 21,000 landline telephone accounts. It added around 7,200 new Internet customers.

“We view these results as neutral-to-slightly negative for the shares,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds wrote in a note, pointing to the weak subscriber metrics.

Shaw decided several years ago against building a wireless business to go with its landline phone, Internet and television products, which hurt the company as mobile data use exploded.

On Wednesday a multicompany deal was announced, with Shaw receiving C$100 million for its wireless airwaves.

Chief Executive Officer Brad Shaw said the company should hit its full-year targets, with operating income before restructuring costs and amortization expected at the lower end of its 5 percent to 7 percent forecast and free cash flow expected to exceed C$650 million.

Shaw’s net income slipped to C$209 million ($169 million), or 42 Canadian cents per share, from C$228 million, or 47 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose almost 6 percent to C$1.42 billion, which the company ascribed mostly to its new business services division.

Analysts, on average, expected profit of 50 Canadian cents a share on revenue of C$1.42 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue for consumer services slipped as the company offered more promotions but also lost customers, while its media unit suffered from a weak advertising market and the sale of two channels earlier in the year.

Shaw wrote down C$55 million for an Internet-based TV platform it has abandoned. It has since decided on a trial of a cloud-based platform from Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Alden Bentley and Jeffrey Benkoe