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BCE building in Montreal
BCE building in Montreal

BCE profit jumps in quarter Add to ...

BCE Inc. says its third-quarter profit more than doubled and rose above the half-billion mark on the favourable resolution of past tax positions, lower restructuring costs and fewer outstanding common shares.

Canada's largest telecommunications company reported net income applicable to common shares of $558-million or 72 cents per share for the third quarter. That was up from a profit of $248-million or 31 cents per share last year.

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Adjusted EPS, which analysts and the company track closely, rose to 84 cents from 60 cents per share.

The company said it expects full-year adjusted earnings to be at the high end of its guidance, which is $2.40 to $2.50 per share for 2009.

The Montreal-based company's operating revenue at Bell Canada, BCE's largest subsidiary, was $3.78-billion, up $40-million from $3.74-billion last year. Overall operating revenue was $4.457-billion, up $20-million from $4.437-billion a year earlier.

BCE said Thursday that it expects revenue to come in at the low end of that range.

Analysts had pegged BCE revenues at $4.5-billion for the third quarter and $4.5-billion in the October-December quarter. They also predicted 70 cents per share of adjusted earnings in the third quarter and 62 cents in the fourth quarter, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Bell said its operating revenues during the July-September quarter were boosted by the acquisitions of The Source retail chain and the remaining 50 per cent equity of Virgin Mobile Canada not already owned by Bell.

The company also reported growth in video revenues which offset declines in local, long distance and wireline data revenues.

These declines came largely from Bell Aliant , which saw sales slide by 3.2 per cent to $786-million due to lower local, long distance and equipment revenues.

BCE said its positive results reflect continued progress in Bell's push to improve customer service, accelerate wireless, leverage wireline momentum, invest in broadband technology and achieve a competitive cost structure.

BCE said Bell invested $589-million of capital in the quarter, a figure that was up four per cent from year-ago levels. The capital expenditures included investments in Bell's new HSPA high-speed wireless network deployed this month, and the continuing expansion of its wireline broadband network.

"Our strategic progress this quarter makes clear that Bell is fundamentally transforming as a customer-focused competitor," said George Cope, president and chief executive officer of BCE and Bell Canada.

"Even in a challenging economic and competitive environment, the Bell team's ongoing execution of our strategic imperatives moves us forward every day toward achieving our goal: For Bell to be recognized by customers as Canada's leading communications company."

Bell Wireless recorded 501,000 new subscribers during the quarter and saw its total net activations rise by 15 per cent due to the success of new handsets, services and applications.

Wireless operating revenues increase 0.3 per cent to $1.2-billion in the quarter on growing wireless data revenues and increased product sales.

"Our results this quarter showed good financial discipline throughout the business," said Siim Vanaselja, chief financial officer of BCE and Bell Canada.

"In a challenging economic cycle, we have continued to focus on improving the cost structure of our operations by implementing efficiency initiatives to deliver sustained improvement in the profitability of our business."

The company's shares closed at $27.09 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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