BCE expects growth to continue into 2014

BCE Inc. is raising its quarterly dividend and predicting its 2014 adjusted earnings will be up more than 3% compared with last year, building on growth at its Bell subsidiary. The Montreal-based telecom and media company says its common share dividend will rise by 6% or 14 cents to $2.47 per year, including a quarterly […]

BCE Inc. is raising its quarterly dividend and predicting its 2014 adjusted earnings will be up more than 3% compared with last year, building on growth at its Bell subsidiary.

The Montreal-based telecom and media company says its common share dividend will rise by 6% or 14 cents to $2.47 per year, including a quarterly payment of 61.75 cents per share on April 15.

BCE’s adjusted net earnings, one of the key measures watched by analysts, came in at $2.99 per share for all of 2013 – up 1% from $2.96 per share in 2012 and within its previous guidance.

“Bell’s strategy of intense investment in Canada’s next-generation communications infrastructure is delivering for our customers and shareholders,” said George Cope, who is president and CEO of both BCE and Bell Canada, its main subsidiary.

“Momentum continued across all Bell’s business segments, especially in our wireless, media, TV and Internet growth services.”

In the fourth quarter, BCE’s adjusted net earnings were $540 million, an increase of 16.4% from a year earlier, with adjusted earnings per share at 70 cents.

That was a penny higher than the estimate of 69 cents per share compiled by Thomson Reuters, however revenue fell short of estimates.

BCE Inc., which owns Bell Canada, CTV Inc. and other media and telecom companies, says its overall revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 was $5.38 billion – up 4.3% from $5.16 billion.

Analysts had estimated more than $5.4 billion of revenue.

BCE also recorded fourth quarter net earnings of $495 million, or 64 cents per share, down from $666 million, or 86 cents per share, from the same quarter in 2012.

The company says the year-over-year decrease in net earnings was due to a non-cash gain recognized in the fourth quarter of 2012 on the transfer of spectrum from Inukshuk to its partners.

For all of 2013, BCE’s net earnings were $1.975 billion, or $2.55 per share, down from $2.4 billion, or $3.17 per share, compared to the previous year. BCE says the decrease was partly due to $230 million that Bell was ordered to pay by the CRTC as part of the acquisition of Astral that was completed in the third quarter.

Bell said its operating revenues grew 5.2%t in the fourth quarter to $4.8 billion, driven by steady wireless growth and strong TV and Internet expansion outpacing declines in traditional voice services.

Bell Media operating revenue rose 38.9% in to $821 million, thanks to higher advertising and subscriber fee revenues from the Astral acquisition, which closed on July 5, 2013.

In its 2014 guidance, BCE says it expects adjusted net earnings per share of between $3.10 and $3.20, up from $2.99 in 2012. The company also expects Bell’s revenue growth to be in the two to 4% range.

Media Articles

Social Scanner: Hootsuite celebrates Halloween

Plus, Taco Bell goes dark on social and Chevrolet embraces its slip up

PMB and NADbank merge

New entity promises enhanced data, reduced costs

6 takeaways from the Brightroll Video Summit

Panelists covered everything digital, video and mobile

Bell Media launches video streaming service

"Project Latte" will include the entire HBO scripted off-air library

Toronto Crime Stoppers shed light on contraband tobacco

Public awareness campaign asks citizens to take action

UPDATED: Rogers and Vice Media enter $100-million partnership

Media companies to produce Canadian-focused content for mobile, web and TV

A revisionist’s recent history of TV and internet advertising (Column)

Traditional TV has done a poor job of defending itself against false perceptions that ad spend is shifting dramatically. The danger is these perceptions can lead marketers to invest against that change, making it a reality

Digital magazine readership on the rise: PMB

Digital readership increases by more than 50% in the past year

Nearly half of Canadians read a newspaper each day: NADbank

Digital-only readership is just 11%, but growing among younger demographics