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May 5, 2022

BCE beats profit expectations, surpasses pre-pandemic results

We don't see growth flattening off: BCE's Mirko Bibic

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BCE Inc. rode strong wireless results to a first-quarter profit beat, topping analyst expectations and surpassing pre-pandemic business levels for the first time.

Adjusted earnings per share rose 14.1 per cent in the quarter to hit 89 cents, above the average analyst expectation of 80 cents per share, as the wireless division posted its strongest quarter of organic growth in 11 years.

In a release, BCE CEO Mirko Bibic pointed to not only the wireless division strength, but also in other areas of the business, as key contributors to the company returning to pre-pandemic business levels in the quarter.

“We delivered our best quarterly organic wireless service revenue growth rate in 11 years through balancing the right market share growth with operating profitability. In addition, our net retail internet and IPTV subscriber activations are up 20 per cent over last year,” he said.

“This is the first quarter since the start of the pandemic in which our consolidated financial results surpassed pre-COVID levels.”

Operating revenue for the quarter was in-line with expectations at $5.85 billion – up 2.5 per cent from the same quarter last year.

Total wireless operating revenue increased 5.2 per cent year-over-year to $2.21 billion. Postpaid wireless net additions – a key metric of how many higher-value phone subscribers the company added – rose four per cent to 34,230, above the 30,000 additions forecast by analysts.

Blended mobile average revenue per user rose 5.1 per cent in the quarter, as easing COVID restrictions and an increase in international travel led to higher roaming charges, the company said.

BCE’s Bell Media division – the parent company of BNN Bloomberg – posted a 15.7 per cent increase in operating revenue in the quarter, pointing to higher advertising and subscriber revenue compared with last year.

The company also reaffirmed its full-year forecast, with expectations for between one and five per cent revenue growth this year and adjusted earnings per share growth of two to seven per cent.