Bell Canada Revenues Rise on Customer Growth

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Canada's BCE has announced its fourth quarter financial results which saw profits fall by more than a quarter even as revenues rose.

Revenues were up by 4.3 percent to C$5.38 billion, while net profit fell by 25.7% to C$495 million.

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

At the end of Q4 2013, BCE (Bell and Bell Aliant) served a total of 7.93 million wireless customers, up 1.3% from Q4 2012; total TV subscribers of 2.5 million, a 7.7% increase; total high-speed Internet subscribers of 3.14 million, up 3.0%; and total NAS lines of 7.6 millioon, a decrease of 6.6%.

Bell Wireless operating revenues increased 3.2% to $1,505 million in Q4 2013 with service revenue up 3.7% to $1,359 million and EBITDA up 10.4% to $529 million, reflecting the flow-through of postpaid smartphone subscribers acquired in 2013, combined with blended ARPU growth from higher data revenue.

Wireless data revenue increased 15.2% on higher customer usage,

Postpaid net additions in Q4 totalled 119,520, compared to 143,834 in Q4 2012. This reflected a 6.7% decrease in postpaid gross activations attributable to a high level of competitive intensity during the holiday period, as well as to lower handset discounts and increased rate plan pricing on new 2-year contracts, introduced following the implementation of the new federal Wireless Code of Conduct, that impacted customer acquisitions year over year.

Smartphone users represented 73% of total postpaid subscribers at the end of 2013, compared to 62% a year earlier. Bell Wireless postpaid customers totalled 6,677,692 at the end of the year, an increase of 3.9%.

Total Bell Wireless customers grew 1.3% to 7.78 million.

Effective with Q4 2013 and on a prospective basis, all machine-to-machine, or M2M, subscriptions have been excluded from subscriber-based measures.

Cost of acquisition (COA) decreased 2.5% this quarter to $468 per subscriber, mainly reflecting lower average handset discounts. For 2013, COA per gross activation remained relatively stable at $421 compared to $416 in 2012.

"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, and continued to decrease operating costs." said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE

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