Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bell Canada Adds Wireless and Video Subscribers

BCE reported quarterly revenue and EBITDA growth in line with its increased financial guidance; healthy free cash flow; an increase in net earnings applicable to common shares to $558 million, or $0.72 per share, this quarter compared to $248 million, or $0.31 per share, in Q3 2008; and strong wireless and video net subscriber activations. Bell's operating revenues increased by 1.2% this quarter, to $3,788 million, as higher product revenues from the acquisitions of The Source and the remaining 50% of the equity of Virgin Mobile Canada (Virgin) not already owned by Bell and growth in video revenues more than offset declines in local and access, long distance, and wireline data revenues.

"Our strategic progress this quarter makes clear that Bell is fundamentally transforming as a customer-focused competitor," said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. "Even in a challenging economic and competitive environment, the Bell team's ongoing execution of our strategic imperatives moves us forward every day toward achieving our goal: For Bell to be recognized by customers as Canada's leading communications company."

Some highlights:

  • The Bell Wireless segment had record Q3 gross activations of 501,000 new subscribers and total net activations of 135,000. Postpaid net activations of 122,000 were a Q3 record.

  • Bell Wireless operating revenues increased by 0.3% this quarter with service revenues declining by 0.6% and product revenues increasing by 1.9%. Bell Wireless operating income and EBITDA grew by 4.7% and 0.2% respectively.

  • Blended ARPU decreased by $2.50 to $52.13 year-over-year but improved sequentially over the previous quarter by $1.67.

  • In the Bell Wireline segment, retail residential NAS losses improved for an eighth consecutive quarter but total Residential NAS declined by 77,000 this quarter, or by 6.9% more than last year, due to higher wholesale customer deactivations. Business NAS declined by 26,000 this quarter compared to no change last year, reflecting business customer disconnections and fewer new installations.

  • Video subscribers increased by 40,000 and high-speed Internet subscribers increased by 22,000 this quarter.

  • Bell Wireline operating revenues increased by 1.0% as video and equipment and other revenue growth more than offset declines in local and access, long distance and data revenues. Equipment and other revenues increased by 78.5% due to the acquisition of The Source at the start of the quarter. Bell Wireline operating income increased by 83.2% as a result of higher EBITDA and lower restructuring and other costs. Bell Wireline EBITDA increased by 2.1% due to higher revenues and cost reductions.

  • Bell invested $589 million of capital this quarter, or 4.1% more than in Q3 of last year.

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