TORONTO – Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) raised its dividend Thursday as it reported its fourth-quarter profit slipped from a year ago, even as the company managed to generate more revenue per subscriber from its wireless services.
The Toronto-based company earned a net profit of $297 million, or 57 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $320 million or 62 cents per share in the same period a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, its profit fell by $2 million to $355 million as the company faced a 10 per cent increase in amortization and depreciation expenses. On a per share basis the results were equal to 69 cents per share, beating analyst expectations by five cents, according to a survey from Thomson Reuters.
Overall revenue was up four per cent to $3.37 billion, from $3.24 billion a year earlier.
The company’s wireless segment contributed more than half of the overall operating revenue as it grew by three per cent to $1.9 billion. Wireless revenues were pushed higher by a larger average monthly bill for its postpaid subscribers of $67.43, an increase of $1.09 from the same time a year earlier.
Rogers also reported higher operating revenue in its media division, which rose 20 per cent to $544 million, as subscriptions to both Sportsnet channels and the Next Issue Canada digital magazine services brought in more money.
However, the company warned there was “continued softness” in advertising revenues from its publications and conventional TV channels, which include the Citytv stations.
Revenue at Rogers Cable was flat at $871 million.
“A year ago, I said that I viewed this as a multi-year journey to restore our performance back to an industry-leading profile,” chief executive Guy Laurence told analysts on a conference call.
“We have now completed the foundation year.”
The company announced it will be raising its dividend by five per cent starting with the quarterly payment to shareholders on April 1.
The next quarterly dividend will be 48 cents per share, to shareholders of record as of March 13, up from 45.75 cents per share previously. On an annualized basis, the dividend rate rises to $1.92 per share from $1.83.