Quebecor says may sell non-Quebec spectrum as third-quarter beats estimates

MONTREAL – Telecommunications and media company Quebecor is considering selling the $300 million worth of wireless spectrum outside Quebec it purchased over the last few years, president and CEO Pierre Dion said Thursday.

Dion made the comment during a conference call discussing the company’s third-quarter results, which surpassed analyst estimates.

“We’re looking at all options, including selling,” Dion said, adding, “I don’t really have more to say on the subject.”

Despite acquiring the spectrum outside Quebec during a series of auctions held by the federal government, Quebec’s Canadian expansion hasn’t yet materialized. Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) says the federal regulatory framework is not yet attractive enough.

The company’s brass didn’t want to say what it expected from the new Liberal government by way of telecommunications policy.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Quebecor recorded net profits of $85.1 million, or 69 cents a share, an 88 per cent increase from the same time last year.

The gain is attributed to the fact Bell Canada lost its court appeal in Quebec on a judgement ordering it to pay compensation to Videotron.

“Accordingly, a $139.1-million, non-adjusted operating income gain on litigation was recognized in the third quarter of 2015,” the company said.

Revenues during the same period increased 9.5 per cent to $971.7 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated Quebecor’s third-quarter profits at $44 million and revenues of $960 million.

All of the company’s sectors — telecommunications, media as well as sports and entertainment — reported increased revenue.

Quebecor’s telecom branch, Videotron, added 40,000 subscribers to its cellphone service, bringing its total number of clients to 742,500.

“This has been our best quarter since the launch of the service,” said Videotron president Manon Brouillette. “I think we can maintain the rhythm until the end of the year.”

Adjusted income from continuing operations was $74 million, or 60 cents per basic share, up from $58.1 million, or 47 cents, in the same period of 2014, an increase of 27.4 per cent.