Canada's BCE reports a 7.6 pct fall in profit

Canada's BCE reports a 7.6 pct fall in profit

BCE Inc. said a potential Canadian ban on telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. won't affect its plans for capital expenditures or the timing of the rollout of 5G networks.

"Huawei has been a supplier...for our 3G and 4G mobile networks for a number of years with, of course, the Canadian government's support", Cope said.

Ottawa's 5G review comes at a tense time in diplomatic relations between Canada and China.

Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on December 1, after a US request.

Do you think the level of scrutiny over Huawei is fair?

In late January, the United States Department of Justice formally charged Meng with fraud and accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets from US telecom company T-Mobile.

The comments Thursday are the most wide-ranging from BCE since a feud erupted between China and Canada, with Huawei at the center.

The Canadian government's cybersecurity review is expected to take a few more months, but some analysts believe a Huawei ban is getting more likely.

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"The odds appear to be rising that Canada could follow other countries in banning Chinese suppliers from 5G networks", National Bank analyst Adam Shine noted to clients Tuesday.

However, the company, which is one of Canada's Big Three telecom firms along with Telus Corp and Rogers Communications Inc, had 121,780 net postpaid wireless subscribers in the quarter, down about 31 percent from a year earlier.

Wireless revenue grew 4.6 per cent from a year ago, driven by a larger subscriber base, a higher proportion of customers choosing larger data plans as well as increased sales of more expensive smart phones, LeBlanc said. Analysts, on average, estimated BCE would earn 87 cents per share.

Bell reported revenues up 3 percent from the year before to CAD 6.2 billion, with adjusted EBITDA going 2.8 percent higher to CAD 2.394 billion and free cash flow jumping 56.7 percent to CAD 1.022 billion.

"BELL's broadband leadership strategy continues to deliver unparalleled network performance and service innovation to our customers and ongoing value enhancement to our shareholders - including the latest increase to the BCE common share dividend announced today", said Pres./CEO GEORGE COPE.

But profit fell 8 per cent to $642-million, or 68 cents per share, as the company recorded a $190-million non-cash impairment charge at its Bell Media division, saying that was due to revenue and subscriber "pressures" at its French-language television stations.

The company announced a 5-per-cent increase in its annual dividend to $3.17 per common share, consistent with a long-standing dividend-growth policy.

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