Q4 2013 highlights
Bell Aliant Inc. net income up $3 million from Q4 2012
Residential net NAS declines improve 16.3 per cent from Q4 2012
High-speed Internet net additions of 7,200, up 49.8 per cent from Q4
FibreOPTM Internet adds 18,000 net new customers
FibreOP TV adds 16,000 net new customers
Excess free cash flow used to make $80 million advanced income tax
2013 full-year highlights
Best year-over-year revenue performance since 2008
Best high-speed Internet net additions since 2010
Highest IPTV net additions to date
Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) passes 806,000 premises at December 31
FibreOP Internet customers reach 184,000
FibreOP TV customers reach 158,000
Free cash flow before advanced tax payment of $544 million
Intense competitive activity expected to continue
FTTH to pass 1 million premises by end of 2014
Cash income taxes expected to be $160 million to $190 million, including
$65 million one-time catch-up payment
Dividend declared expected to continue at $1.90 per share
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, Feb. 4, 2014 /CNW/ - Bell Aliant Inc. (TSX: BA) today reported financial results for the fourth quarter of
2013 for Bell Aliant Inc. (Bell Aliant) and Bell Aliant Regional
Communications Inc. (Bell Aliant GP), and announced its 2014 financial
"Solid execution of our strategy over the last five years has positioned
us well to succeed in an intensely competitive industry," said Karen
Sheriff, president and chief executive officer, Bell Aliant. "In 2013,
we continued to progress on the road to revenue growth, by investing in
the best broadband technology available to offer the most value to
customers. We challenged deeply discounted competitor pricing in our
markets during the latter quarters of 2013 with our own promotions,
which pressured our revenue and EBITDA results in the fourth quarter of
2013 but helped us gain and retain customers, which is the key to our
"In 2013, we expanded our FTTH network to pass 806,000 premises,
achieved our highest level of high-speed Internet customer net
additions since 2010, and the most IPTV customer net additions in our
history. We also advanced our next generation network coverage for
businesses, and, through partnerships with governments and other
parties, upgraded our network capabilities in several territories,
increasing our service offerings and revenue opportunities. Growth in
these areas helped to offset the effects of continued declines in our
traditional voice business. As a result, in 2013 we had our best
year-over-year revenue performance since 2008.
"I continue to be very proud of our on-going achievements in managing
costs, which enabled us to largely contain expense increases in 2013
driven by our growing TV customer base, despite the intense competitive
"Our significant out-performance in our fibre markets versus non-fibre
markets has made the case for expanding our FTTH coverage as quickly as
possible even more compelling. With the successful execution of our
FTTH builds over the last several years, we are confident that we have
the operational capability to hit the 1 million FTTH premises passed
milestone by the end of 2014.
"Looking forward, we expect the aggressive competitive activity of 2013
to carry over into 2014, pressuring revenue and EBITDA, and presenting
us with a bit of a bump in the road returning to growth. We plan to
stay toe-to-toe with the competition and believe our competitive
offerings, coupled with our world-class FTTH network, give us the
opportunity to ultimately be the whole-home provider of choice in many
markets. Continuing to build a strong customer base, along with
pervasive cost management, will help return us to profitable growth in
the future. I have never been more confident that our FTTH strategy is
the right way for us to get there," concluded Sheriff.
Bell Aliant used its excess free cash flow after dividends in 2013 to
make an $80-million advanced payment on income taxes that would
otherwise have been payable in early 2014. Increases in interest rates
and strong asset return performance in Bell Aliant's pension plans
reduced Bell Aliant's estimated defined benefit pension solvency
deficit to approximately $350 million at the end of 2013, down by
approximately $500 million from the end of 2012, reinforcing Bell
Aliant's expectation that requirements for additional cash
contributions will be reduced going forward.
"The actions we have taken over the last several years to increase our
financial flexibility, along with strong operational execution of our
FTTH and cost management objectives, have been critical to putting us
in position to effectively manage Bell Aliant's introduction to paying
cash income taxes as a corporation," said Glen LeBlanc, executive
vice-president and chief financial officer. "The company is making
important fibre investments to make it even stronger for the future
while maintaining its current dividend distribution."
Fourth quarter 2013 highlights1
Bell Aliant Inc. reported net earnings of $69 million in the fourth
quarter of 2013, up $3 million from the same quarter in 2012. The
increase was driven by improved earnings in Bell Aliant GP, with
adjusted EBITDA declines offset by lower depreciation and income tax
expense. Earnings per share and adjusted earnings per share for the
quarter were $0.30 and $0.38 respectively, compared to $0.29 and $0.38
a year earlier.
Fourth quarter and full year financial highlights of Bell Aliant GP are
summarized as follows:
(In millions of dollars)
Adjusted EBITDA (1)
Free Cash Flow (1) (2)
(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 Q4 2013 Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A)
(2) Bell Aliant GP made a $100-million lump sum contribution to defined
benefit pension plans in Q4 2012, and an $80-million advanced income
tax payment in December 2013 that was otherwise payable in early 2014.
Excluding these payments, free cash flow in 2013 was $544 million
compared to $547 million in 2012.
Operating revenues in the fourth quarter of 2013 were $689 million, down
$6 million (0.9 per cent) from the same quarter in 2012. Growth in
Internet and TV revenues was offset by declines in local, long
distance, wireless and other revenues. Operating expenses in the fourth
quarter of 2013 were up $4 million from the same quarter in 2012,
mainly driven by growth in promotional and TV content costs from a
growing FibreOP customer base, which were partially offset by productivity savings. As a
result, adjusted EBITDA declined $10 million (3.2 per cent) in the
fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter in 2012.
Capital expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2013 were $147 million, up
$13 million (9.3 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 2012. Capital expenditures for the full year
2013 were $570 million, down $22 million from 2012, reflecting lower
FTTH footprint expansion and less FTTH start-up costs than 2012.
Free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $71 million, down $18
million (20.0 per cent) from the same quarter in 2012. In 2013, Bell
Aliant elected to use available free cash flow to make an $80-million
advance payment of income taxes that would otherwise have been paid in
early 2014 as part of a cash optimization strategy. Similarly, in Q4
2012, Bell Aliant elected to make a $100 million lump-sum contribution
to defined benefit pension plans. Excluding these payments, free cash
flow was $151 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, down $38 million
(20.0 per cent) from the same quarter a year earlier. The decrease was
driven by higher capital expenditures, lower adjusted EBITDA and higher
interest and regular income tax payments compared to the fourth quarter
of 2012. For the year, free cash flow before these payments was $544
million in 2013, down $3 million (0.6 per cent) from 2012, and in line
with the 2013 guidance range of $500 million to $560 million provided
in February 2013.
Internet revenue increased $7 million (5.1 per cent) with residential
high-speed average revenue per customer (ARPC) growth of 3.6 per cent
from the same quarter a year earlier. Selected pricing action, and
customer movement to premium services drove the increase in ARPC. FibreOP Internet customers grew by 18,000 during the quarter, bringing total FibreOP Internet customers to 184,000 at the end of December 2013. 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 customer ARPC. Overall high-speed Internet customer
net additions were 7,200 in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 4,800
in the same quarter of 2012, bringing total high-speed Internet
customers to 952,100 at the end of December 2013, up 3.7 per cent from
a year earlier.
IPTV revenue grew $12 million (50.2 per cent) in the fourth quarter of
2013 compared to the same quarter in 2012, with total IPTV customers of
178,100, up 44.8 per cent from a year earlier. FibreOP TV customers grew by 16,000 in the fourth quarter to reach 158,000, a
portion of which were migrations from Bell Aliant's FTTN TV service.
Overall net IPTV customer additions were 14,800 in the fourth quarter
of 2013, compared to 15,600 a year earlier.
Local service and long distance revenues declined $15 million (5.1 per
cent) and $9 million (11.6 per cent), respectively, in the fourth
quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter in 2012, driven by NAS
declines of 5.5 per cent. Residential net NAS declines of 28,300 in the
fourth quarter of 2013 improved 5,500 from the same quarter in 2012
with improved retention in both fibre and non-fibre markets. Business net NAS declines of 10,600 were consistent with the
same quarter a year earlier.
Wireless revenues were relatively flat in the fourth quarter of 2013
compared to the same quarter in 2012, as the fourth quarter of 2012
included a catch-up revenue accrual that did not recur in 2013.
Wireless customers were up 2.0 per cent compared to a year ago.
Other revenues were down $1 million (2.3 per cent) in the fourth quarter
of 2013 compared to the same quarter in 2012, as revenues from
non-recurring large customer projects were offset by declines in
product and rental revenues.
Bell Aliant's 2014 financial guidance is as follows:
2014 Financial Guidance
$2,700 million to $2,780 million
$1,235 million to $1,285 million
$535 million to $585 million
Free Cash Flow(1)
$300 million to $360 million
Adjusted earnings per share(1)
$1.45 to $1.75
(1) Adjusted EBITDA, free cash flow and adjusted earnings per share are
non-IFRS financial measures. Refer to the "Non-IFRS financial measures"
section of Bell Aliant GP's Q4 2013 Management's Discussion and
Analysis (MD&A) for details.
Operating revenues in 2014 are expected to be between $2,700 million and
$2,780 million compared to $2,759 million in 2013. Growth in Internet
and IPTV revenues as a result of growth in FibreOP customers is expected to somewhat offset decreases in traditional voice
revenues arising from competitive activity and technology substitution.
Other revenues in 2013 included $12 million from several large one-time
projects that are not expected to recur in 2014 and a contact centre
subsidiary which ceased operations in late 2013.
Operating expenses in 2014 are expected to remain relatively consistent
with 2013 levels, as savings from productivity initiatives and lower
pension current service costs are expected to offset cost increases
from normal inflationary pressures and increasing TV content costs from
a growing TV customer base.
Adjusted EBITDA in 2014 is expected to be between $1,235 million and
$1,285 million, compared to 2013 adjusted EBITDA of $1,284 million.
Capital expenditures in 2014 are expected to be between $535 million and
$585 million, compared to $570 million in 2013. Higher spending on FTTH
footprint expansion and new FibreOP customer connections in 2014 are expected to be offset by less spending
on copper network replacement and large customer network projects than
Cash income taxes paid in 2014 are expected to be between $160 million
and $190 million, including a one-time catch-up payment of $65 million
arising from changes in tax laws which eliminated the ability to defer
partnership income. Accordingly, cash income taxes paid in years
subsequent to 2014 are expected to be lower than 2014, in the range of
$110 million to $135 million annually, depending on the level of
taxable income and tax rates in those years.
Free cash flow is expected to be between $300 million and $360 million
in 2014, compared to $464 million in 2013. Increases in cash income
taxes paid, lower adjusted EBITDA, and lower cash from changes in
working capital are expected to contribute to lower free cash flow.
Free cash flow in 2014 is expected to be lower than normal due to the
extra income tax payment of $65 million combined with continued
elevated capital expenditures to pass 1 million FTTH premises by the
end of 2014. In future years both income taxes paid and capital
expenditures are expected to decrease.
Adjusted earnings per share in 2014 is expected to be between $1.45 and
$1.75, compared to $1.63 in 2013.
Bell Aliant declared a quarterly dividend of $0.475 per common share,
payable on April 4, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of
business on March 14, 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 March 31,
2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 14,
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
More information on Bell Aliant's and Bell Aliant GP's fourth quarter
2013 results and 2014 financial guidance can be found in Bell Aliant's
fourth quarter 2013 supplementary financial information package and
Bell Aliant GP's fourth quarter 2013 MD&A, 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 February
4, 2014 at 8 a.m. (Eastern). The dial-in numbers are 866-223-7781 and
416-340-2216 for Toronto area participants. Media are invited to attend
in listen-only mode. A replay of the session can be heard until March
7, 2014. To access the replay, dial 800-408-3053 or 905-694-9451 and
enter the passcode 3670003#.
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.
The information contained in this news release is unaudited.
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.
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 fourth quarter of 2013. 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.
Definitions of non-IFRS measures:
Adjusted EBITDA: Bell Aliant defines adjusted EBITDA as operating
revenue less operating expenses, which means it represents operating
income before depreciation and amortization expense, and severance and
other charges. Operating income is calculated before net finance costs,
other expense and income taxes are deducted.
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
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.
Capital intensity: Bell Aliant defines capital intensity as capital
expenditures divided by operating revenues.
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 fourth quarter of 2013 available at www.bellaliant.ca/investors and www.sedar.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements concerning
anticipated future events, results, circumstances or expectations, in
particular statements concerning fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) expansion
plans, 2014 financial guidance, future capital expenditure plans and
interest, post-employment benefit plan, income tax, dividend payments
and other items. Unless otherwise indicated, such forward-looking
statements describe management's expectations at February 4, 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
Several assumptions were made by Bell Aliant in preparing its 2014
financial guidance and in making forward-looking statements in this
news release, including but not limited to the following expectations
Competition in both business and consumer markets will continue to be
Wireless substitution for wireline services will increase in Bell Aliant
markets but will continue to lag other regions of Canada;
Net NAS declines will be similar to those experienced in 2013;
High-speed Internet customer net additions will be similar to those
experienced in 2013;
IPTV customer net additions will be similar to those experienced in
Bell Aliant will pass approximately 190,000 to 200,000 incremental homes
and businesses with FTTH, bringing total premises passed with FTTH to
approximately 1 million by the end of 2014;
Capital intensity will be 20 per cent to 22 per cent for 2014. Capital
intensity is expected to decline to 15 per cent to 17 per cent, in the
future, following the completion of the FTTH build;
Cost reductions achieved through productivity initiatives will continue,
offsetting cost increases associated with growth in IPTV customers and
associated TV content costs, and normal inflationary pressures;
Pension expense included in adjusted EBITDA in 2014 will be $55 million
to $65 million, compared to $62 million in 2013. The applicable
discount rate for 2014 expense based on year-end 2013 is 4.9 per cent,
compared to 4.4 percent for 2013. Net interest expense of
post-employment benefit plans, not included in adjusted EBITDA, will be
$15 million to $20 million in 2014, using the 4.9 per cent rate applied
the net benefit obligation, compared to $32 million in 2013;
Substantially all pension deficit funding requirements will be met by
drawing down lump sum contributions to defined benefit pension plans
made in prior periods or through use of letters of credit, resulting in
cash funding for deficit reduction of nil to $10 million for 2014,
compared to nil in 2013. Cash funding for current service costs and
other benefit plans in 2014 will be $65 million to $75 million,
compared to $65 million in 2013;
Net interest paid will be $145 million to $155 million in 2014, compared
to $160 million in 2013;
Taxable income will be subject to a blended federal and provincial
corporate income tax rate of 28 per cent in 2014 resulting in income
tax expense of $115 million to $135 million, compared to $130 million
Cash income taxes paid will be $160 million to $190 million in 2014
compared to $104 million in 2013, which included an $80-million payment
that would have otherwise been due in early 2014. Cash income taxes in
2014 will include the one-time catch-up payment of approximately $65
million related to the elimination of the ability to defer partnership
income. Cash income taxes in subsequent periods are expected to be $110
million to $135 million annually, depending on the level of income and
tax rates in those future periods;
Depreciation and amortization expense for 2014 will be $600 million to
$640 million, compared to $615 million in 2013. Amortization of
purchase price allocation adjustments of $78 million in 2014, or
approximately $0.25 per share after-tax, will be excluded from adjusted
earnings per share calculations, compared to $81 million, or $0.25 per
share after-tax, in 2013;
The annual common share dividend will continue to be declared at $1.90
per share. The declaration of dividends is subject to approval by the
Board of Directors;
The quarterly common share dividend payment date will change from being
paid on the last business day of each quarter in 2013 to being paid on
or about the fourth business day in the month following the end of the
quarter in 2014, similar to the practice of most dividend-paying
No significant external financing will be required in 2014.
Bell Aliant encourages investors to review the risk factors section
below, and related disclosures, for a discussion of the various factors
that could cause actual results to differ from what is currently
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 (IT); 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 "Risk management" section of
Bell Aliant Inc.'s MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2012, and the
"Assumptions made in the preparation of forward-looking information"
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, 2012, as updated by their 2013 quarterly MD&As, as well as the
"Risk factors" sections of Bell Aliant Inc.'s and Bell Aliant Regional
Communication Inc.'s 2012 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.
SOURCE: Bell Aliant Inc.
For further information:
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