• Wireless carrier adds 78,000 new contract subscribers
  • BCE reports third-quarter profit of 93 Canadian cents a share

BCE Inc., Canada’s largest telecommunications company, reported third-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates as it attracted new wireless subscribers.

Profit excluding certain items was 93 Canadian cents a share (71 cents), the Montreal-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts predicted 85 Canadian cents, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 2.9 percent to C$5.35 billion from C$5.2 billion a year earlier.

BCE, known by its brand name Bell, added 77,655 new contract wireless customers, compared with the average analyst estimate of 77,400. Bell grabbed the subscribers even as rival Rogers Communications Inc., the largest wireless carrier, blasted past estimates for customer additions when it reported in October.

Telus Corp., a Vancouver-based competitor, added 69,000 new wireless contract customers and reported third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, of 66 cents a share, according to a statement from the company Thursday. Analysts predicted 64 cents on average.

Bell, Rogers and Telus are competing for a wave of customers looking for new phone plans. Canada’s government in 2013 put an end to cancellation fees for contracts longer than two years, potentially leaving twice the usual number of wireless users free to switch providers this year.

BCE fell less than 1 percent to C$56.30 at the close Wednesday in Toronto. The shares have climbed 5.7 percent this year.

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