Bell Aliant Q4 revenues decline to $696 million as IPTV, Internet gains offset legacy losses

Bell Aliant (Toronto: BA-UN.TO) reported on Tuesday that Q4 2012 operating revenues were CAD 695 million (USD 696 million), down CAD 6 million (USD 6.01 million), or 8 percent, year-over-year.

As seen in previous quarters, the growth in Internet, IPTV and wireless revenues offset expected declines in local and long distance voice revenues. During the quarter, operating expenses increased by CAD 2 million (USD 2 million) from the same quarter a year ago to fund sales support and TV content acquisition for its growing Fiber to the Home (FTTH) FibreOP customer base.

In November, Bell Aliant extended FibreOP service to Amherst, Nova Scotia, an area that includes about 5,400 residential and business customers.

For the year 2012, net earnings rose CAD 6 million (USD 6.01 million) to CAD 329 million (USD 329.7 million), while earnings per share and adjusted earnings per share for the year were CAD 1.43 (USD 1.43) and CAD 1.71 (USD 1.71), respectively, up from CAD 1.41 (USD 1.43 ) and CAD 1.70 (USD 1.70) in 2011.

Here's a breakdown of Bell Aliant's key metrics:

  • Landline losses: In the fourth quarter, the telco's local and long-distance service revenues declined CAD 15 million (USD 15.02 million) and CAD 10 million (USD 10.01 million), respectively. However, it narrowed residential Network Access Service (NAS) declines to 33,800 year-over-year due to improved residential customer activations, winning back customers from the local cable operators, and retention in FibreOP markets. In the business segment, NAS declines of 10,600 increased by 2,200 were the result of an increase in customers migrating to IP-based technologies, which reduces NAS counts but retains the business customer.
  • Broadband and Internet: Driven by selected pricing action and customer movement to premium services, including FibreOP, the telco's Internet revenue increased 5.5 percent, or CAD 7 million (USD 7.01 million) with residential high-speed average revenue per customer (ARPC) in the fourth quarter of 2012 up 4.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago. During the quarter, it added 20,200 new FibreOP Internet customers, ending the month of December with a total of 112,000 FibreOP Internet customers. However, the FibreOP Internet additions include existing Bell Aliant customers migrating from DSL and Fiber to the Node (FTTN) networks to the upgraded service.
  • IPTV: Bell Aliant's overall Q4 IPTV revenue grew CAD 10 million (USD 10.1 million), ending the month of December with a total of 123,000 IPTV customers. FibreOP TV customers grew by 17,400 in the quarter to reach 96,800, a figure that includes customers that migrated from Bell Aliant's FTTN-based TV service. The service provider added a total 15,600 IPTV in Q4 2012, compared to 8,900 a year earlier.

In 2013, a big initiative for Bell Aliant will be to expand the reach of its FTTH network. By the end of the year, it expects to pass 800,000 premises. From a financial perspective, the telco said that it expects free cash flow to be in the range between CAD 500 (USD 501 million) to CAD 560 million (USD 561.2 million).

Bell Aliant was trading at CAD 26.09 (USD 26.10), up CAD 0.54 (USD 0.54), or 2.11 percent in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.  

For more:
- see the earnings release

Special report: Wireline telecom earnings in the fourth quarter of 2012

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