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Report on Business Rogers raises dividend as profit climbs on increase in wireless subscribers

Canada’s Rogers Communications Inc on Thursday beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit, as the cable and telecom company’s investments in its wireless business paid off and it signed up more subscribers.

One of Canada’s Big Three telecoms, Rogers has been spending heavily on customer service and wireless networks to win in the country’s fast-growing mobile market where aggressive discounts and promotions are common baits for attracting customers.

The company said it added 112,000 net postpaid subscribers in the fourth-quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, up from 72,000 new customers a year earlier.

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On average, Rogers’ wireless customers paid $55.91 a month for its services, up from $54.95 a year ago.

The Toronto-based company said its postpaid churn rate, the pace at which customers exit subscription, fell 0.25 points to 1.23 per cent during the quarter.

Last week, smaller rival Shaw Communications reported a profit beat, also driven by monthly postpaid customers additions.

Rogers has also been getting 5G-ready with various acquisitions across the country. It has partnered with mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson for 5G trials in Toronto and Ottawa among other cities. Fifth-generation technology is expected to greatly enhance speed and coverage with almost no time lag. Canadian providers, which are behind their U.S. counterparts, are now focusing on getting their fair share of the technology.

Rogers said it has signed a three-year partnership with the University of British Columbia to create what the company says will be Canada’s first “real-world” 5G hub.

The company said despite spending heavily, it expects revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization to grow in 2019.

It expects to spend between $2.85 billion and $3.05 billion in 2019, the upper range of which is ahead of the $2.86 billion analysts at Barclays were expecting.

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Rogers’ net income rose to $502 million, in the reported quarter, from $499 million.

On a per share basis, the company earned 97 cents per share, flat compared with a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, it earned $1.13. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.08, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 6 per cent to $3.94 billion.

Rogers also raised its quarterly dividend to 50 cents, up from 48 cents.

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