Telecommunications firm BCE Inc. is positioned to report strong second-quarter earnings this week, even as it continues to go through huge changes.
Once a landline phone monopoly, it has grown organically and through acquisitions into a wireless and broadcasting powerhouse.
After paying $1.3-billion to take full control of CTV Inc. in 2010, Bell threw down $3-billion for Astral Media Inc. even as it battled with Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp. and a host of feisty upstart wireless firms for new smartphone customers.
The Montreal-based company’s diversity of revenue appears to have helped, arguably making it less vulnerable than other Canadian telcos – most notably Rogers – to shifts in behaviour by wireless consumers, such as hordes amassing to buy a new iPhone that requires a hefty, profit-denting subsidy.
Analysts view BCE as being a somewhat less risky bet than Rogers, which surpassed estimates in the quarter but remains under pressure from wireless competitors, but not quite as safe as Vancouver-based Telus, favoured by some for its exposure to Western Canada’s booming oil economy and consistent wireless results.
Consensus estimates for BCE, which reports on Aug. 8, are for $4.96-billion in revenues, earnings per share of about 77 cents, and net income of $623-million.
Greg MacDonald, the telecom analyst at Macquarie Capital Markets Canada, suggests there is low risk for investors going into the company’s earnings.
He also expects to see progress on Bell’s new TV service, which has not been pushed as aggressively as Telus’s similar service, as well as on Bell’s wireless margins. Intense wireless competition from deep-discounting upstarts such as Wind Mobile and Mobilicity has eased slightly.
Bell should also benefit on media revenues from its sports properties, he added.