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Telus Corp. T-T boosted its first-quarter profit as it added wireless customers and benefited from increased revenues in its high-growth Telus International, Telus Health and Telus Agriculture businesses.

The Vancouver-based telecom reported $4.28-billion in revenue for the three-month period ended March 31, up 6.4 per cent from a year ago, while its profit rose 21.3 per cent to $404-million for the quarter.

The results came as the Canadian telecom sector has largely turned the corner from the COVID-19 pandemic. Doug French, Telus’s chief financial officer, said that during the first quarter, roaming revenues were back up to roughly 80 per cent of prepandemic levels.

Roaming revenues, which come from fees that telecoms charge when customers use their wireless devices abroad, have been slower to recover compared with other areas of business, such as in-store shopping.

“Ultimately roaming will recover. We’re optimistic that we’re going to see a steady improvement in that regard,” Zainul Mawji, executive vice-president and president of home solutions and customer excellence at Telus, said in an interview on Friday.

In spite of recent headwinds such as global semiconductor shortages, supply chain disruptions and continuing competition for talent, Mr. French said that Telus has continued its growth trajectory. “It exemplifies that our team can execute when things are extremely tough, through the COVID period,” he said in an interview.

The telecom’s earnings amounted to 28 cents a share, up from 25 cents a year ago. The company attributed the higher profits to increased operating income, driven by higher wireless and internet revenues as well as a greater contribution from its Telus International business.

After adjusting for restructuring and other costs, as well as excluding losses related to real estate joint ventures from its year-ago results, Telus had $414-million in profit, up 15.3 per cent from a year ago. The adjusted profit came to 30 cents a share, up from 27 cents a year ago.

Analysts had been expecting 30 cents a share in adjusted profits and $4.35-billion in revenue, according to the consensus analyst estimate from S&P Capital IQ.

Telus added 46,000 net new wireless customers during the quarter, a significant increase from a year ago when it added 31,000 net new wireless subscribers.

Online customer service provider Telus International increased its revenue by 19 per cent year-over-year to $599-million, owing partly to the expansion of its AI Data Solutions business.

Telus Health, which operates health clinics and provides services such as virtual care and health benefits management, increased its revenue by $17-million, or 14 per cent.

And Telus’s agriculture subsidiary, a business aimed at digitizing the food-supply system, boosted its revenue by $23-million, or 37 per cent, largely because of acquisitions.

Telus is planning to expand its health and agriculture businesses, either by identifying strategic partners or by taking the divisions public, following last year’s successful initial public offering of Telus International.

“The partner that we would look at needs to be a strategic partner that brings value to the relationship, and if we can’t find that partner right out of the gate we might proceed with IPOs,” Mr. French said on Friday. He added that IPOs could still be 12 months away, and that the timing of those public market debuts will depend on a number of factors, including market conditions.

Shares of Telus rose 2.1 per cent on Friday, closing at $32.28 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Editor’s note: Telus' quarterly revenue has been corrected in the online version of this story.

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