BCE Pays Up on Promotions to Beat Analyst Profit Estimates

  • Carrier's C$5.27 billion in sales trailed analysts' estimates
  • Customer acquisition costs grew 9.3 percent year over year

BCE Inc. posted first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as Canada’s largest telecommunications provider added more wireless customers than expected with competitive promotions.

Earnings excluding some items were 85 Canadian cents a share, the Montreal-based company said in a statement Thursday. That exceeded the 84-cent average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales of C$5.27 billion trailed projections for C$5.32 billion as it spent more on promotions to attract subscribers. BCE added 25,805 wireless customers, beating analysts’ average estimate of 24,167.

BCE spent 9.3 percent more to acquire customers than a year earlier as it fought with Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. for new subscribers. Competition heated up at the end of the quarter as all three carriers ramped up phone subsidies and promotional spending, Barclays analyst Phillip Huang said in a note to clients before BCE reported results. The lower Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. greenback also raised handset prices, BCE said in the statement.

  • Average revenue per user grew 3.6 percent to C$63.02 as customers used more mobile data on their phones, helping offset the increased promotional spending.
  • The company added 19,783 new Internet users, compared with almost 40,000 in the same quarter last year.
  • BCE confirmed 2016 revenue forecast given in February of C$21.7 billion to C$22.2 billion.
  • Rogers, which reported results last week, added 14,000 new wireless customers in the first quarter.
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