Canada's BCE misses on profit due to higher expenses

FILE PHOTO: A Bell Canada office is pictured in downtown Ottawa November 26, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

(Reuters) - Canadian telecommunications company BCE Inc's BCE.TO first-quarter profit narrowly missed analysts' estimates on Thursday as a near 13 percent jump in operating expenses offset growth in its wireless postpaid business.

BCE, also known as Bell, said higher costs in the quarter were mainly due to its Bell MTS unit and increased spending on advertising.

Net wireless postpaid customers in the quarter nearly doubled to 68,487 from a year earlier, as more customers migrated to its services due to a government contract it won last year.

In 2017, Shared Services Canada (SSC), the department that oversees information technology services government-wide, announced Bell as the primary supplier of the Canadian government’s mobile network services and devices for six years.

BCE said net income attributable to its shareholders rose 3 PERCENT to C$661 million ($515 million), or 73 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31.

Excluding items, the company earned 80 Canadian cents per share, missing the average analyst estimate of 82 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Montreal-based company said operating revenue rose nearly 5 percent to C$5.59 billion.

($1 = C$1.28)

Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel