Bell Aliant reports first quarter 2014 results - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Bell Aliant reports first quarter 2014 results

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SOURCE Bell Aliant Inc.

  • First quarter financial results in line with 2014 guidance
  • Data revenues grow $22 million (8.6 per cent) on strong Internet and TV customer additions, next generation network expansion for business
    • High-speed Internet net additions up 2,300 (26.0 per cent) from Q1 2013
    • FibreOPTM Internet adds 16,000 net new customers to reach 200,000
    • FibreOP TV adds 13,400 net new customers to reach 171,400
  • Residential net NAS declines improve 2,400 (8.7 per cent) from Q1 2013
  • Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) passes 827,000 premises

This news release contains forward-looking statements. For a description of the related risk factors and assumptions please see the section entitled "Forward-looking Information" later in this release.

HALIFAX, April 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Bell Aliant Inc.(TSX: BA) today reported financial results for the first quarter of 2014 for Bell Aliant Inc. (Bell Aliant) and Bell Aliant Regional Communications Inc. (Bell Aliant GP).

"Our fibre-to-the-home expansion continued to demonstrate the strength of our strategy as we achieved another solid quarter of customer additions in the first quarter of 2014," said Karen Sheriff, president and chief executive officer, Bell Aliant. "Our high speed Internet additions and residential net NAS performance improved substantially from the same quarter a year ago, as we continued to have success in an intensely competitive marketplace.

"We are continuing to expand our fibre-to-the-home coverage area and are growing our FibreOP penetration rate. We believe loading this network is the path to returning us to revenue growth, and that continues to be our focus.

"We again demonstrated disciplined cost management, holding expenses in the first quarter of 2014 essentially flat to the same quarter in 2013, despite our growing TV customer base and normal inflationary pressures.  Productivity initiatives continued to deliver results and are key to our strategy going forward.

"Our fibre-to-the-home technology makes us the communications provider of choice in many of our markets, and we believe provides our customers with the best technology available.  We expect this, along with continued solid cost management, will ultimately lead us to growth in the future," concluded Ms. Sheriff.

"We have continued to invest aggressively in fibre-to-the-home and by the end of 2014, expect to pass one million premises with FTTH," said Glen LeBlanc, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, Bell Aliant. "Our success in our FibreOP markets is strengthening our company for the future.  We plan to maintain our common share dividend throughout this period of network expansion and are pleased with the access to affordable capital that we have continued to enjoy.

"We are very pleased to have recently completed a very successful medium term note offering in the capital markets to re-finance our shorter-term bank lines at extremely favourable rates." 

First quarter 2014 highlights1

Bell Aliant Inc. reported net earnings of $69 million in the first quarter of 2014, down $14 million from the same quarter in 2013.  The decrease was driven by lower earnings in Bell Aliant GP, with lower EBITDA and increased restructuring costs compared to the same quarter a year earlier.  Earnings per share and adjusted earnings per share for the quarter were $0.30 and $0.40 respectively, compared to $0.36 and $0.44 in the first quarter of 2013.

First quarter financial highlights of Bell Aliant GP are summarized as follows:

 

(In millions of dollars)

(unaudited)

Q1 2014

Q1 2013

Change

Operating Revenue

$676

$684

(1.2%)

Adjusted EBITDA (1)

317

324

(2.2%)

Capital Expenditures

134

128

4.7%

Free Cash Flow (1)

(26) (2)

95

(127.6%)

 

(1) Adjusted EBITDA, free cash flow and adjusted earnings per share are non-IFRS measures. Refer to the "Non-IFRS financial measures" section of Bell Aliant GP's Q1 2014 Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) for details.
(2)
Free cash flow in the first quarter of 2014 included a one-time, catch-up income tax payment of approximately $65 million related to the elimination under applicable tax laws of the ability to defer partnership income.

Operating revenues in the first quarter of 2014 were $676 million, down $8 million (1.2 per cent) from the same quarter in 2013. Growth in Internet, TV and other data revenues was offset by declines in local, long distance, wireless and other revenues. Operating expenses in the first quarter of 2014 declined $1 million from the same quarter in 2013, as continued savings from productivity initiatives offset normal inflationary pressures and growth in promotional and TV content costs from a growing FibreOP customer base. As a result, adjusted EBITDA declined $7 million (2.2 per cent) in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013.

Capital expenditures in the first quarter of 2014 were $134 million, up $6 million (4.7 per cent) from the same quarter a year earlier.  The increase was largely driven by higher FTTH footprint expansion costs and more expansion and upgrades of DSL Internet service areas compared to the same quarter in 2013.

Free cash flow in the first quarter of 2014 was negative $26 million, down $121 million from the same quarter in 2013, primarily as result of completing a one-time, catch-up payment for income taxes arising from the elimination of the ability to defer partnership income, and the requirement to make higher monthly tax installment payments.  Higher uses of cash for changes in working capital, capital expenditures, and lower EBITDA also contributed to the decline in free cash flow compared to the first quarter of 2013. With the one-time, catch-up income tax payment now completed, income tax payments for the remainder of 2014 are expected to reflect normal monthly installments and free cash flow is expected to return to positive levels.

Revenue details

Internet revenue increased $5 million (3.9 per cent) driven by growth in high-speed Internet customers of 3.9 per cent from a year ago.  FibreOP Internet customers grew by 16,000 during the quarter, bringing total FibreOP Internet customers to approximately 200,000 at the end of March 2014. FibreOP Internet additions include existing Bell Aliant customers migrating from DSL and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) networks to the upgraded service. These migrations do not contribute to overall high-speed customer growth but increasingly contribute to improved customer retention and growth in overall average revenue per customer (ARPC). Overall high-speed Internet customer net additions were 11,000 in the first quarter of 2014, up from 8,700 in the same quarter of 2013, bringing total high-speed Internet customers to 963,000 at the end of March 2014.

IPTV revenue grew $12 million (43.5 per cent) in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, with total IPTV customers of 189,800, up 38.3 per cent from a year earlier. FibreOP TV customers grew by 13,400 in the first quarter to reach 171,400, a portion of which were migrations from Bell Aliant's FTTN TV service. Overall net IPTV customer additions were 11,700 in the first quarter of 2014, compared to 14,300 a year earlier.

Other data revenues increased $5 million (4.9 per cent) in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, as a result of higher data networking hardware sales and expansion of Bell Aliant's next generation network technology which enabled IP data services growth to offset legacy declines.

Local service and long distance revenues declined $15 million (5.4 per cent) and $10 million (13.4 per cent), respectively, in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, driven largely by NAS declines of 5.6 per cent. Residential net NAS declines of 23,900 in the first quarter of 2014 improved 2,400 from the same quarter in 2013 with improved performance in both fibre and non-fibre markets. Business net NAS declines were 7,600 in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 5,900 the same quarter a year earlier.

Wireless revenues were relatively flat in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, primarily as a result of lower ARPC from competitive pressures and lower roaming rates. Wireless customers were up 1.8 per cent at the end of March 2014 from a year earlier with growth in postpaid wireless customers of 3.5 per cent offset by declines in prepaid wireless customers, reflecting industry trends.

Other revenues were down $4 million (9.7 per cent) in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, as Q1 2013 revenues included revenues from a contact centre subsidiary which has since ceased operations and a decrease in the volume of custom work in Q1 2014.

Declared dividends

Bell Aliant declared a quarterly dividend of $0.475 per common share, payable on July 7, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 13, 2014. Bell Aliant Preferred Equity Inc. declared a dividend on its Series A Preferred Shares of $0.303125 per share, a dividend on its Series C Preferred Shares of $0.284375 per share, and a dividend on its Series E Preferred Shares of $0.265625 per share, each to be paid on June 30, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 13, 2014.

Unless otherwise stated, dividends paid by Bell Aliant and Bell Aliant Preferred Equity Inc. to Canadian residents are "eligible dividends" as defined by the Canadian Income Tax Act and corresponding provincial legislation.

Additional information

More information on Bell Aliant's and Bell Aliant GP's first quarter 2014 results can be found in Bell Aliant's first quarter 2014 supplementary financial information package and Bell Aliant and Bell Aliant GP's first quarter 2014 MD&As, available at www.bellaliant.ca/investors and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Analyst conference call

A conference call with the financial community is scheduled for April 30, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern). The dial-in numbers are 866-696-5910 and 416-340-2217 for Toronto area participants. Please use passcode 2743188#. Media are invited to attend in listen-only mode. A replay of the session can be heard until May 30, 2014. To access the replay, dial 800-408-3053 or 905-694-9451 and enter the passcode 7854445#.

A live audio webcast of the conference call can be accessed on www.bellaliant.ca under the Investor Relations section. A replay of the conference call will be available on the website for one year.

Notes

The information contained in this news release is unaudited.

(1)

Bell Aliant derives virtually all of its income from its ownership in Bell Aliant GP. Bell Aliant GP's results consolidate the results of Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership; Télébec, Limited Partnership; NorthernTel, Limited Partnership; and Bell Aliant Preferred Equity Inc.


(2)

Percentage changes quoted in this release related to dollar values are based on amounts rounded to the nearest hundred-thousand, consistent with disclosure in Bell Aliant's supplementary information package and Bell Aliant GP's MD&A for the first quarter of 2014. Dollar values quoted in this release are rounded to the nearest million unless otherwise stated. Customer metrics are rounded to the nearest hundred unless otherwise stated.


(3)

Definitions of non-IFRS measures:




a.

Adjusted EBITDA: Bell Aliant defines adjusted EBITDA as net earnings before finance costs, other income, income tax expense, depreciation and amortization, and severance and other charges.





b.

Free cash flow: Bell Aliant defines free cash flow as cash from operating activities less capital expenditures. Free cash flow includes the cash performance of Bell Aliant and Bell Aliant GP on a combined basis.





c.

Adjusted earnings per share (EPS): Bell Aliant defines adjusted EPS as diluted EPS of Bell Aliant Inc. adjusted for the per share after-tax effect of purchase price allocation amortization, severance and other charges, and debt redemption loss, recorded by Bell Aliant GP.

 

For a reconciliation of these non-IFRS financial measures to the most closely comparable IFRS financial measures, please refer to Bell Aliant GP's MD&A for the first quarter of 2014 available at www.bellaliant.ca/investors and www.sedar.com.

Forward-looking information
This news release contains forward-looking statements concerning anticipated future events, results, circumstances or expectations, in particular statements concerning FTTH expansion plans and the anticipated effect of FTTH expansion, dividend payments, expected 2014 free cash flow and other items. Unless otherwise indicated, such forward-looking statements describe management's expectations at April 30, 2014. These statements are based on management's beliefs regarding future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and beyond management's control. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to assumptions which may prove to be inaccurate and numerous risks and uncertainties which are difficult to predict.

Forward-looking statements made in this press release are based on a number of assumptions Bell Aliant believed were reasonable on the date the forward-looking statements were made. In Bell Aliant and Bell Aliant GP's 2013 annual MD&As, and as updated in their 2014 quarterly MD&As issued to date, the principal assumptions that were made in the preparation of the forward-looking statements related to Bell Aliant's expected financial and operational performance in 2014 are outlined. These assumptions include market, operational and financial assumptions and have not changed significantly during Q1 2014.

Risk factors
There are many factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. The most significant factors that Bell Aliant has identified that may affect Bell Aliant's financial results or events in 2014 include but are not limited to: increasing competition; cost management; financing and free cash flow; network evolution; pension valuation and investment risk; legislative and regulatory factors; outsourcing and vendor relationships; information technology; human capital; as well as the structural subordination of our common shares; limitations on non-resident ownership; dilution, unpredictability and volatility of our share price; and tax-related risks. Some of these risk factors are largely beyond Bell Aliant's control. For additional information on material factors and assumptions used to develop forward-looking information and risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking information, see also the "Risks that could affect our business and results" section of Bell Aliant Inc.'s MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2013, and the "2014 outlook and assumptions" and "Risks that could affect our business and results" sections of Bell Aliant Regional Communications Inc.'s MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2013, as updated by their 2014 quarterly MD&As, as well as the "Risk factors" sections of Bell Aliant Inc.'s and Bell Aliant Regional Communication Inc.'s 2013 Annual Information Forms. These documents are available at www.bellaliant.ca and www.sedar.com.

Should any risk factor affect Bell Aliant in an unexpected manner, or should assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements prove incorrect, the actual results or events may differ materially from the results or events predicted. Unless otherwise indicated, forward-looking information does not take into account the effect that transactions, or non-recurring or other special items, announced or occurring after this information is provided may have on the business. All of the forward-looking information reflected in this press release and the documents referred to within it are qualified by these cautionary statements. There can be no assurance that the results or developments anticipated by Bell Aliant will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences for Bell Aliant.

Except as may be required by Canadian securities laws, Bell Aliant disclaims any intention and assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information, even if new information becomes available, as a result of future events or for any other reason. Readers should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking information. Forward-looking information is provided for the purpose of providing information about management's current expectations and plans relating to fiscal 2014 or other future periods. Readers are cautioned that such information may not be appropriate for other purposes.

About Bell Aliant
Bell Aliant (TSX: BA) is one of North America's largest regional communications providers and the first company in Canada to cover an entire city with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology with its FibreOP services. Through its operating entities, it serves customers in six Canadian provinces with innovative information, communication and technology services including voice, data, Internet, video and value-added business solutions. Bell Aliant's employees deliver the highest quality of customer service, choice and convenience.

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