BCE beats earnings expectations in 1st quarter

BCE Inc. shares rose Thursday after the company reported first-quarter earnings that were ahead of analyst expectations.

The stock was up 48 cents at $58.86 in early afternoon trading on the TSX.

Earlier in the day, the company said it posted adjusted earnings of 85 cents a share, a penny ahead of consensus analyst forecasts.

The company said it posted total revenue of $5.27 billion, which was below the consensus analyst forecast of $5.32 billion, but still ahead of the $5.24 billion a year go.

Glen LeBlanc, BCE's executive vice-president and chief financial officer, said during an analyst conference call that the company had a  "a very solid start to the year."

BCE said it gained 25,805 net new wireless postpaid customers and reported a net loss of 35,673 prepaid subscribers. It also added 47,740 net new Fibe TV customers while it reported a net loss of 37,741 satellite TV customers.
BCE said it added 19,783 new high-speed Internet customers during the quarter.

In a report following the release of BCE's result, Desjardins Capital Markets analyst Maher Yaghi said additions of internet customers were hit by price competition and missed consensus forecasts.

"However, by not matching all of Rogers' promotional activity, BCE has chosen to protect margins, which we view as better in the long term for shareholders' interests," Yaghi said. "Overall, the results show continued resiliency in operations and impressive cost control."

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