BUSINESS

Shaw Communications says flood damage to infrastructure minimized

06/28/2013 08:41 EDT | Updated 08/28/2013 05:12 EDT
Shaw Communications Inc. said Friday it has been able to minimize damage from Alberta's floods on its infrastructure as it reported a third-quarter profit of $250 million.

"As many of you know, the level of physical devastation is matched only by the personal loss felt by many residents including some of our employees and our customers," chief executive Brad Shaw said.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this disaster. We are grateful that our operations are in tact and are operating at close to full strength," Shaw told a conference call.

Shaw said Friday the profit amounted to 52 cents per share for the quarter compared with a profit of $248 million or 53 cents per share a year ago when the company had few shares outstanding.

The Calgary-based cable and satellite, Internet and media company had $1.33 billion of revenue in its third quarter ended May 31— up four per cent from last year.

Turning to the company's third-quarter results, Shaw said improving conditions are helping set the stage for dividend increases.

"Given the improvement in free cash flow and assuming continued favourable market conditions, our board plans to target dividend increases of five per cent to 10 per cent over the next two years," he said.

Shaw also said it's on track to generate between $590 million and $600 million of free cash flow in fiscal 2013, which is above the company's previous guidance.

Free cash flow during the third quarter was $138 million.

Net income was bolstered by increased operating income — which increased to $585 million from $567 million a year earlier — and a $50-million gain from Shaw's sale of Mountain Cable in Hamilton to Rogers (TSX:RCI.B).

Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) also has an option to sell unused wireless spectrum — radio waves over which cellphone networks operate — to Rogers.

On Friday, the Conservative government announced new guidelines for companies that want to sell their wireless spectrum licences.

Any company that wants to transfer their wireless spectrum licence will now have to ask Industry Canada to do a review within 15 days of signing an agreement that could lead to a prospective change.

Industry Canada will then give the proposed spectrum transfer deal a thumbs up or down.

Dejardins analyst Maher Yaghi said Shaw Communication's financial results were in line with expectations.

Yaghi noted that lost 26,578 basic cable subscribers (vs consensus of 25,600) due to increased competition from Telus's TV service.

Shaw gained 4,157 Internet customers (vs consensus of 3,900) and 17,719 cable telephony customers (vs consensus of 13,200), he said in a research note.

Shares in Shaw Communications were up six per cent, or $1.44, to $25.38 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.