Telus Corp. T-T boosted its fourth-quarter profit and revenue as the accelerated expansion of its fibre-optic broadband network helped the telecom attract more customers.
Vancouver-based Telus is targeting $3.4-billion in capital expenditures in 2022, the final year of its expedited broadband investment program.
The telecom also said it expects to increase its operating revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) by 8 to 10 per cent this year as the economy recovers from the pandemic.
“The recovery is going to continue throughout the rest of 2022, but I think it really is [about] the execution of our strategy along the way,” chief financial officer Doug French said in an interview Thursday.
However, Mr. French said he doesn’t expect that roaming revenues – which the company charges when customers use their cellphones abroad – will recover to prepandemic levels until late in the year or early next year.
Telus reported $4.87-billion of revenue for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, up 20 per cent from a year ago, and $663-million in profit, an increase of 145 per cent compared with the same period last year. The earnings amounted to 47 cents a share, up from 20 cents a share a year ago.
The company attributed the jump partly to the sale of its financial-solutions business to legal-profession technology provider Dye & Durham.
Mr. French said Telus will use the proceeds from the sale of its payment business to invest in areas such as its health care and agriculture division, its buildout of fibre-optic broadband networks and spectrum purchases. (Spectrum refers to airwaves used to transmit wireless signals.)
“It was a non-core asset for us, but a very valuable asset, so it was a win-win for ourselves and our acquirer,” Mr. French said.
After adjusting for items including the gain from selling its financial-solutions business, Telus had $331-million in profit during the quarter, up 15 per cent from a year ago. The adjusted earnings amounted to 23 cents a share, up from 22 cents a share during the same quarter last year.
Analysts had been expecting 25 cents a share of adjusted earnings and $4.41-billion in revenue, according to the consensus estimate from S&P Capital IQ.
Telus added 112,000 net new mobile phone customers during the quarter and 79,000 net new wireline subscribers, including 40,000 internet customers. (The wireline segment also includes television, home phone and security services.)
BMO analyst Tim Casey said the internet subscriber additions were better than expected, owing to “execution and fibre footprint expansion.”
Telus International, which went public last year on the TSX and the New York Stock Exchange, reported US$600-million of revenue during the quarter, up from US$442-million a year ago. Its profit came to US$36-million, compared with US$21-million during the same quarter last year.
The Telus offshoot, which runs the digital customer experience for clients such as Fitbit and Uber, has said it is aiming to grow both organically and through acquisitions.
Jeff Puritt, Telus International’s president and CEO, said the recent selloff in the technology sector has made potential acquisition targets more affordable.
“I’m anticipating that the price I would have to pay for asset X today is less expensive than for that same asset even just 60 or 90 days ago,” Mr. Puritt said.
“I don’t like the thought of overpaying for an asset because I think that leads one to [doing] inappropriate, unnatural things on the integration to make up for having overpaid on the purchase price. That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Telus International, which Telus controls through a dual-class share structure, has been less affected than its peers by the tech stock rout, Mr. Puritt said.
“We’re obviously not immune from it, but I guess we’re a little bit more conservative in terms of the evaluation of our business – more focused on cash flow and profit, less on revenue growth … and as a consequence, we’ve been a little inoculated from the volatility.”
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