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Press Release

This news release contains forward-looking statements. For a description of the related risk factors and assumptions, please see the section entitled “Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements” later in this release.

  • 3.2% growth in consolidated revenue; 2.2% higher adjusted EBITDA
  • 266,000 total broadband wireless, Internet and IPTV net additions, up 41.5%
  • Record Q3 total wireless net additions of 178,000, including a 15.5% increase in postpaid net additions to 135,000, delivered growth in wireless revenue of 5.9% and 4.5% in adjusted EBITDA
  • Grew broadband Internet and IPTV market share with 88,000 net additions, up 8.7%
  • Wireline revenue growth accelerates to 1.9% on improved organic residential and business top-line results, yielding 1.2% higher adjusted EBITDA
  • Net earnings grew 2.0% to $867 million; net earnings attributable to common shareholders increased 1.4% to $814 million, or $0.90 per common share; adjusted net earnings of $861 million up 4.5%, driving a 5.5% increase in adjusted EPS to $0.96

MONTRéAL, Nov. 1, 2018? –?BCE Inc. (TSX: BCE) (NYSE: BCE) today reported results for the third quarter (Q3) of 2018.

“Powered by Canada’s most advanced fibre and wireless networks, Bell led the industry in Q3 broadband growth as we welcomed 266,000 wireless, Internet and IPTV customers, 41.5% more than in Q3 2017. Bell’s strategy of broadband network investment, ongoing service improvement and efficient operation is delivering leading results in the marketplace, stronger organic financial performance and service innovation across all of our business segments,” said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. “Canada’s best national mobile network delivered Bell’s highest number of wireless net additions ever in a third quarter, including accelerating growth in our Lucky Mobile prepaid brand and our highest number of postpaid net additions since 2012. Market-leading wireline broadband growth of 88,000 Internet and IPTV net subscriber additions and a strong performance by Bell Business Markets reflect the unsurpassed speed and quality of our growing high-speed fibre network for both consumers and business customers. And with continued leadership in conventional, pay and specialty TV, including #1 sports channel TSN, Bell Media delivered positive revenue in a traditionally slow quarter while leading the way in content creation and innovation across new media platforms.”

Bell is focused on achieving a clear goal – to be recognized by customers as Canada’s leading communications company – through the execution of 6 Strategic Imperatives: Invest in Broadband Networks & Services, Accelerate Wireless, Leverage Wireline Momentum, Expand Media Leadership, Improve Customer Service, and Achieve a Competitive Cost Structure.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTS

Executive leadership appointments
In October, Bell announced the executive appointments of Mirko Bibic as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for leading Bell Mobility, Bell Residential & Small Business and Bell Business Markets, as well as all BCE and Bell legal and regulatory affairs; and of Wade Oosterman as Vice Chair, a senior advisory and executive oversight role in addition to his leadership of Bell Media as Group President and his role as Bell’s Chief Brand Officer.

Reduction in management positions
BCE completed a net reduction in its management workforce of 4%, or approximately 700?positions, in the past 120 days that is expected to deliver annualized cash savings of approximately $75 million. These changes reflect the further integration of Bell MTS, Bell Aliant and other acquisitions, productivity improvements and cost efficiencies resulting from the expansion of Bell’s all-fibre network footprint and service innovations enabled by new broadband technologies.

Rural and North broadband expansion
Following successful trials in the 3.5 and 28 GHz spectrum bands, Bell’s Wireless to the Home (WTTH) footprint has rolled out to 19 rural locations in Ontario and Québec with plans to deliver fixed wireless broadband Internet to more than 30 communities by the end of year. WTTH complements Bell’s wireline fibre to the premises (FTTP) network that now encompasses 4.4?million homes and business locations in 7 provinces. Bell’s 1.5 Gigabit service, Canada’s fastest, was launched in Ontario this summer and has now rolled out in Québec and Atlantic Canada. Bell company Northwestel launched its new high-speed broadband satellite network serving Nunavut in Iqaluit, the first of 25 communities in the territory that will access the network; Bell Mobility announced it is trialling LTE wireless in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet with plans to connect 13 more Nunavut communities this year. Bell MTS is extending LTE Advanced (LTE-A) wireless coverage in rural Southeastern Manitoba, increasing access to the latest wireless technology to 90% of Manitobans. Canada’s first combined vehicle and asset tracking solution is now available on Bell’s IoT-dedicated LTE-M network from Canadian innovation partners BeWhere and Trak-iT.

Bell Media’s all-new Crave streaming service
Bell Media today announced the all-new Crave content platform that combines HBO Canada, The Movie Network (TMN) and other premium programming, available now through participating TV providers and as a breakthrough streaming service available to all Canadians with Internet access beginning this Monday November 5. In Q3, Bell Media introduced CraveTV’s first kids programming through a strategic partnership with WOW! Unlimited Media, announced a new long-term programming agreement with VICE Media and made iHeartRadio Canada’s 11,000?podcasts available on Spotify. In October, the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) effectively rescinded a 2015 CRTC ban on simultaneous substitution of U.S. signals during Bell Media’s broadcast of the Super Bowl.

Bell Mobility leadership in smartphones, connected cars
Bell’s leading mobile device lineup continued to expand in Q3 with the addition of Apple iPhone Xs, Xs Max, XR and Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular) and new Android smartphones from leading manufacturers including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3?XL, LG Q Stylo+ and Huawei P20 Pro. Bell Mobility and Ford announced that Bell is the first Canadian wireless service provider enabling built-in Wi-Fi hotspots in Ford and Lincoln vehicles with Bell’s Connected Car – Built In service.

Bell Business Markets network, service innovation
Bell Business Markets (BBM) welcomed the Axia NetMedia team following the August 31 closing of Bell’s acquisition of the Calgary-based operator of Alberta’s provincial SuperNet broadband network. BBM also launched Canada’s first cloud-based Virtual Network Services (VNS) platform, offering enterprise business customers a catalogue of on-demand network functions that reside securely in Bell’s private cloud, including the country’s first managed SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) solution powered by Cisco Viptela.

Bell Let’s Talk in the community
Bell Let’s Talk marked Mental Health Week / World Mental Health Day in October by presenting the annual Faces of Mental Illness, a national anti-stigma campaign highlighting Canadians living in recovery from mental illness. Expanded to $2 million annually starting this year, the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund provides grants to grassroots mental health programs in every region of the country, a total of 120 groups this year starting with donations to community programs in Greater Montréal and the Québec City region, suicide prevention programs at 20?remote First Nations across Ontario, and trauma therapy for recently arrived refugees through YMCA of Greater Saint John.

BCE RESULTS

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

($ millions except per share amounts) (unaudited)

Q3 2018

Q3 2017

% change

BCE

Operating revenues

5,877

5,697

3.2%

Net earnings

867

850

2.0%

Net earnings attributable to common shareholders

814

803

1.4%

Adjusted net earnings(1)

861

824

4.5%

Adjusted EBITDA(2)

2,457

2,405

2.2%

EPS

0.90

0.90

Adjusted EPS(1)

0.96

0.91

5.5%

Cash flows from operating activities

2,043

2,233

(8.5%)

Free cash flow(3)

1,014

1,183

(14.3%)

 

“We performed well across all Bell operating segments in Q3, posting another solid quarter of financial and operating results with record wireless subscriber results, a stronger wireline revenue growth trajectory, improved media top-line performance and cost discipline driving higher adjusted EBITDA in line with guidance for the year,” said Glen LeBlanc, Chief Financial Officer for BCE and Bell. “We remain competitively well positioned as we move forward in Q4, with strong momentum across our wireless and residential wireline operations and market-leading media assets generating strong and reliable cash flow. Growth opportunities ahead from business performance, continued capital and cost efficiency gains, additional MTS-related tax benefits and a stronger pension solvency position provide a solid foundation for continued execution of our dividend growth objective. With no fundamental changes in outlook, I am pleased to reconfirm all our financial guidance targets for 2018.”

BCE operating revenue growth in Q3 accelerated, increasing 3.2% to $5,877 million, driven by a 1.2% increase in service revenue to $5,117 million that reflected year-over-year increases for all Bell operating segments. Product revenue grew 18.2% to $760 million, the result of increased sales of premium smartphones and a greater number of wireless customer transactions, as well as stronger data equipment sales to large business customers.

Net earnings grew 2.0% to $867 million and net earnings attributable to common shareholders increased 1.4% to $814 million. Net earnings per common share was unchanged compared to Q3 2017 at $0.90 per share. Higher net earnings were the result of operating revenue growth driving higher adjusted EBITDA as well as lower income taxes and lower other expense, partly offset by higher severance, acquisition and other costs, increased depreciation and amortization expense and higher finance costs.

Excluding severance, acquisition and other costs, net gains or losses on investments, net mark-to-market changes on derivatives used to economically hedge equity settled share-based compensation plans, early debt redemption costs and impairment charges, adjusted net earnings were up 4.5% to $861 million, driving a 5.5% increase in adjusted EPS to $0.96 per common share.

Adjusted EBITDA was up 2.2% to $2,457 million on increases of 4.5% at Bell Wireless and 1.2% at Bell Wireline. Bell Media adjusted EBITDA decreased 2.7% due to higher programming costs compared to last year, which included broadcast rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. BCE’s consolidated adjusted EBITDA margin(2) decreased to 41.8% from 42.2% in Q3 2017, due to growth in lower-margin wireline and wireless product revenue, higher media content costs, and the margin impact from the decline in wireline voice services.

BCE capital expenditures totalled $1,010 million, compared to $1,040 million in Q3 last year, representing a capital intensity (4) ratio (capital expenditures as a percentage of total revenue) of 17.2%, down from 18.3% last year. Capital investment continued to focus on expanding our fibre to the premises (FTTP) footprint to more homes and businesses; the deployment of wireless small cells to optimize mobile coverage, signal quality and data backhaul; and ongoing investment in Manitoba to improve broadband network coverage, capacity and speeds.

BCE cash flows from operating activities were $2,043 million, down 8.5% from last year, as higher adjusted EBITDA was more than offset by a decrease in cash from working capital and the timing of income taxes paid. Free cash flow generated in the quarter was $1,014 million, 14.3% lower than Q3 last year, reflecting a decrease in cash flows from operating activities excluding acquisition and other costs paid, which was partly offset by lower capital expenditures.

In Q3, BCE added 177,834 net new wireless subscribers (including 135,323 postpaid and 42,511 prepaid); 47,749 net new high-speed Internet customers; 40,091 net new IPTV customers; a decrease of 31,490 net satellite TV customers; and a net loss of 74,921 residential NAS lines.

BCE customer connections across wireless, Internet, TV and residential NAS totalled 19,287,130 at the end of Q3, up 2.2% from last year. The total included 9,487,368 wireless customers, up 5.3% (including 8,728,436 postpaid customers, an increase of 5.9%); 3,904,304?high-speed Internet subscribers, up 3.8%; 2,843,828 TV subscribers, up 0.6% (including 1,639,233 IPTV customers, an increase of 8.0%); and 3,051,630 residential NAS lines, down 6.8%.

BCE OPERATING RESULTS BY SEGMENT

Bell Wireless
Total wireless revenue grew 5.9% to $2,182 million. Service revenue increased 2.5% over Q3 2017 to $1,630 million, due to continued strong growth in subscribers and a higher proportion of postpaid customers choosing plans with larger data allotments. Product revenue was up 17.2% to $552 million on increased sales of higher-value smartphones reflected in higher gross subscriber additions and more customer upgrades compared to last year.

Wireless adjusted EBITDA increased 4.5% to $951 million on the flow-through of high margin service revenue and strong product sales, partly offset by a 7.0% increase in operating costs due to higher handset sales volumes, increased network operating expenses, and higher customer support costs driven by rapid growth in our wireless subscriber base. With a higher proportion of lower-margin product revenue in our wireless revenue mix compared to last year, together with greater device discounting, revenue margin decreased 0.6 percentage points to 43.6%.

  • Total postpaid and prepaid net additions grew 66.2% to 177,834, a record Q3 performance.
  • Postpaid net additions increased 15.5% to 135,323, our best Q3 result since 2012. This was driven by 9.1% higher gross additions of 426,719, reflecting Bell’s mobile network leadership, the success of our sales promotions and retail channel execution, Canadian population growth, the ongoing onboarding of customers from our long-term mobile services contract with Shared Services Canada (SSC) and lower customer churn(4) – which improved 0.02 percentage points to 1.14% in the quarter.
  • Prepaid subscribers increased by 42,511 customers, compared to a net loss of 10,200 in Q3 2017, due to strong market traction for our low-cost Lucky Mobile prepaid service. This contributed to both a 57.7% year-over-year increase in gross additions of 108,928 and lower customer churn. This represented Bell’s first quarter of positive prepaid net additions since Q4 2009.
  • Bell postpaid wireless customers totalled 8,728,436 at the end of Q3, a 5.9% increase over Q3 2017. Total wireless customers increased 5.3% to 9,487,368.
  • Bell’s industry-leading blended average billing per user (ABPU)(4) decreased 0.7% to $69.28. This was due largely to the dilutive impacts of customer activations from the federal SSC contract, as well as a higher proportion of prepaid subscribers and reductions in data overage revenue resulting from larger data allotments in monthly rate plans. Excluding the impact of the SSC contract, ABPU increased 0.6% over last year.

Bell Wireline
Wireline operating revenue increased 1.9% on improved year-over-year organic residential, business and wholesale top-line growth, resulting in 0.8% higher service revenue of $2,938?million and a 20.1% increase in product revenue to $209 million. These increases were driven by industry-leading Internet and IPTV net subscriber gains, higher household ARPU(4), and improved Bell Business Markets performance from IP broadband connectivity revenue growth, stronger sales of data product and business service solutions to large enterprise customers, and increased sales of international wholesale long distance minutes.

Wireline adjusted EBITDA increased 1.2% to $1,324 million, reflecting the flow-through of strong revenue growth as operating costs increased 2.4% to $1,823 million due to increased sales of business wireline data products and wholesale international long distance. Wireline adjusted EBITDA margin declined 0.3 percentage points to 42.1% due to increased NAS erosion, growth in lower-margin product revenue, and the impact of residential service bundle discounts to match competitor promotions.

  • Bell added 53,124 new retail high-speed Internet customers in Q3, an increase of 27.4% over last year, reflecting the ongoing expansion of Bell’s FTTP footprint (which reached approximately 4.4 million locations at the end of Q3, up from 3.6 million last year) and the pull-through of Internet customer activations from Bell’s Alt TV service. Including wholesale net customer losses, total high-speed Internet net additions were 47,749, up 7.5% compared to Q3 last year.
  • BCE’s high-speed Internet customer base totalled 3,904,304 at the end of the quarter, an increase of 3.8% over Q3 last year.
  • Bell TV gained 40,091 net new IPTV subscribers in Q3, up 10.1% from last year, despite aggressive cable service bundle promotions and ongoing over-the-top substitution. The improved performance reflected sustained customer demand for Alt TV and more competitive household service bundles supported by Bell’s expanded FTTP footprint. BCE served 1,639,233 IPTV subscribers at the end of Q3, up 8.0% from the same time last year.
  • Satellite TV net losses improved 9.1% to 31,490 in Q3, the result of lower customer churn and fewer year-over-year migrations to Bell Fibe TV. Excluding wholesale net losses, the Bell Satellite TV subscriber base declined by 26,861 this quarter, compared to a net customer loss of 31,868 in Q3 last year.
  • BCE’s total TV customer base reached 2,843,828 subscribers, up 0.6% from 2,825,754 at the end of Q3 2017.
  • Wireline data service revenue was up 2.8% to $1,867 million, the result of strong Internet and IPTV subscriber growth, higher ARPU from customer upgrades to faster Internet speeds with larger data usage buckets, the flow-through of rate changes, and higher Bell Business Markets IP connectivity and solutions sales to enterprise customers.
  • Other services revenue increased 15.4% to $60 million, due to the incremental financial contribution from the acquisition of AlarmForce Industries.
  • Wireline product revenue increased 20.1% to $209 million, driven mainly by higher equipment sales to business customers.
  • Residential NAS net losses increased to 74,921 from 57,387 in Q3 last year, due to continued wireless and IP substitution and more aggressive cable service bundle promotions. Bell residential NAS access lines totalled 3,051,630 at the end of Q3, representing a 6.8% decline from the same time last year.
  • Wireline voice revenue decreased 4.4% to $950 million due to ongoing NAS erosion, increases in all-inclusive long distance plans, and reduced usage of traditional long distance services by both residential and business customers.

Bell Media
Media operating revenue increased 1.1% in Q3 to $731 million, the result of higher revenues from both advertising and subscriber fees.

Advertising sales increased over Q3 last year due to revenue generated from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, stronger year-over-year specialty entertainment performance and increases at specialty TV news service CP24. Increased subscriber revenue reflected continued growth in CraveTV and direct-to-consumer sports streaming services TSN Direct and RDS Direct.

Bell Media adjusted EBITDA decreased 2.7% to $182 million, due to higher operating costs that included sports broadcast rights, primarily for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; the ramp-up in HBO and Showtime content for CraveTV; and deal renewals for specialty TV programming.

  • CTV continued to be the most-watched television network in Canada with 12 of the top 20 programs of the summer, including #1 show The Amazing Race Canada. CTV was also the top network overall during Premiere Week with the 5 most-watched broadcasts.
  • TSN remained Canada’s sports leader and #1 specialty TV channel overall in Q3, as well as over the last year, as viewership in the quarter increased 29% for the key adults 25-54 demographic on the strength of high-demand programming such as the 2018 FIFA World Cup, MLS soccer, PGA golf, and CFL and NFL football. French-language sports network RDS also grew viewership among adults 25-54 by 29% compared to Q3 last year.
  • Bell Media’s English entertainment specialty TV properties grew audiences by 14% among adults 25-54, with core specialty brands Bravo, Comedy, Discovery, E!, Gusto, Much, MTV and Space all maintaining or growing audiences across key demos.
  • Bell Media was the top French-language specialty and pay TV broadcaster for the 2017/2018 broadcast year with the most top 10 channels among adults 25-54, including Canal D, Canal Vie, RDS and Super écran.
  • As Canada’s top radio broadcaster, Bell Media reached an average audience of 17 million radio listeners who spent over 72 million hours tuned in each week.
  • Bell Media remains the digital media leader among Canadian broadcast and video network competitors with monthly averages of 406 million total views and 944 million minutes spent watching. We reached 68% of digital audiences with approximately 21 million unique monthly visitors.

COMMON SHARE DIVIDEND
BCE’s Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.755 per common share, payable on January 15, 2019 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 14, 2018.

OUTLOOK FOR 2018
BCE confirmed its financial guidance targets for 2018, which were updated on May 3, 2018 to reflect the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standard 15 (IFRS 15):

Read More: แอพยิงปลา http://www.bce.ca/news-and-media/releases/show/BCE-reports-third-quarter-2018-results-1?page=1&month=&year=

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