BCE Inc. said Thursday it’s on track to meet the 2012 financial guidance it issued in August before the company’s attempted purchase of Astral Media ran into a regulatory roadblock.
But the telecom and media giant’s profit was slightly below analyst estimates in the third quarter.
Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 dropped to $569 million and adjusted net earnings fell to $588 million, or 76 cents per share. The adjusted EPS was a penny below recent analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue at the Montreal-based telecom and media company’s was up slightly from the same time last year-$4.98 billion, compared with $4.91 billion in the third quarter of 2011.
Most of that came from Bell Canada, BCE’s main subsidiary. Bell’s operating revenue was $4.39 billion, up from $4.31 billion a year earlier.
BCE said it’s on track to meet its previous guidance of between $3.15 and $3.20 per share of adjusted earnings. Revenue growth is expected to be at the lower end of a range between 3% and 5% over 2011 levels.
The company has asked the federal cabinet to intervene in the CRTC‘s decision to block the Astral Media deal, but so far there’s no indication that the government is interested in overriding the federal telecom and broadcast regulator.
BCE chief executive George Cope said the company had seen strong growth across its wireless, TV, internet and media businesses.
He focused on the relatively new Bell Fibe TV, an internet television service that’s a direct challenge to cable operators such as Rogers Communications.
Bell Fibe TV added 42,973 net new subscribers, up from 20,297 in Q3 2011. At the end of the quarter, the relatively new Bell Fibe TV had 200,000 subscribers.
“We’re executing a strategy of investment in network leadership, product innovation and improved customer service, and I’m proud to say the Bell team has made us a serious contender in every market in which Bell competes,” Cope said in a statement.
As expected, growth at Fibe TV cut into the number of subscribers to Bell’s more-established satellite TV service.
“We’ve said about 15 to 20 per cent of our Fibe TV customers are coming from satellite. That was consistent again this quarter,” Cope told analysts on a conference call after the results were released Thursday morning.
He said the two services are taking steps to manage that trend and to “up our competitive game” with satellite where Fibe TV doesn’t reach. “That will be part of our approach in 2013, as we go forward,” Cope said.
Bell has extended the deadline for its takeover offer for Astral Media to Dec. 16 in hopes the deal can still win regulatory approval. Bell or Astral can again can again extend the expiry date for the deal to Jan. 15, 2013.
Bell also has asked the federal cabinet to direct the CRTC to follow its own policies after the regulatory body nixed the takeover, but Industry Minister Christian Paradis has said the government has no plans to intervene.