Bell adds almost 120,000 wireless subscribers in Q4

BCE Inc. had fourth quarter revenue of $5.382 billion, led in part by its Bell Mobility division which reported another strong period. However, profit for the quarter was down nearly 26 per cent from the same period in 2012.

It scored 119,520 net additions of postpaid subscribers, what financial analyst Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity believes is a sector-leading number. At the end of 2013 Bell and its Bell Aliant division had about 7.9 million wireless subscribers, up 1.3 per cent from December, 2012.

The cellular division’s average revenue per user, a key metric, was $57.92, up two per cent from the same period a year ago.

Overall earnings before taxes and other expenses was $529 million, up 10.4 per cent over the year ago quarter.

As at all incumbent phone companies, Bell continued to lose wireline subscribers to VoIP providers and those cutting the cord completely for cellular-only connectivity, with a net loss of 95,759 access lines.

During the quarter Bell added 15,690 net new ADSL Internet subscribers.

Meanwhile the Bell Fibe fibre-optic TV and Internet service added just over 60,000 subscribers as it fights with cable operators for those wanting high speed services.

BCE [TSX: BCE] results also include its media division, which owns the CTV network and specialty cable channels.

For the quarter BCE had net earnings (profit) of $495 million.

“Bell’s strategy of intense investment in Canada’s next-generation communications infrastructure is delivering for our customers and shareholders,” CEO George Cope said in a statement.

“We achieved healthy smartphone additions and operating metrics in wireless, ongoing acceleration in Fibe TV and Internet, and strong financial growth and ratings leadership at Media. At the same time, we reduced losses in traditional home and business landlines, supporting the positive trajectory in Bell Wireline revenue and EBITDA (earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amoritization), and continued to decrease operating costs.”

For the full 2013, Bell had net earnings of $1.975 billion, down from $2.46 billion in 2012. It blamed some of that drop from a ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that it had to give up some benefits to buy broadcaster Astral Media for $3.4 billion last year. Also, in 2012 it had a one-time gain from transferring its wireless spectrum in the Inukshuk partnership with Rogers Communications.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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