Rogers Communications Inc.'s Earnings Jump on Strong Wireless Results

By Matthew DiLallo Markets Fool.com

Image source: Getty Images.

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Rogers Communications (NYSE: RCI) ended 2016 on a high note, delivering a double-digit increase in adjusted earnings thanks to steady wireless growth. The fine finish to the year enabled Rogers to achieve all of its key guidance expectations. Further, it positioned the company for even stronger growth in 2017.

Rogers Communications results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q4 2016

Q4 2015

Change (YOY)

Revenue

$3.51 billion*

$3.45 billion

1.7%

Adjusted net income

$382 billion

$331 billion

15.4%

Adjusted EPS

$0.74

$0.64

15.6%

Data source: Rogers Communications. *All figures in Canadian dollars. YOY = year over year.

What happened with Rogers this quarter?

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Rogers' wireless division continues to drive results.

  • The wireless segment capped a solid year, with fourth-quarter revenue rising 4% to $2.1 billion, pushing full-year revenue up 3% to $7.9 billion. Driving this growth was the continued adoption of the Rogers Share Everything plans as well as an increase in subscribers. These factors drove a 5% increase in adjusted operating profit for the quarter, which rose to $792 million, pushing full-year operating profit to $3.3 billion, up 1% from 2015.
  • Cable revenue was flat for the quarter and the full year at $858 million and $3.4 billion, respectively. A 9% increase in internet revenue completely offset declines in both television and phone revenue. Meanwhile, adjusted operating profit edged up 2% for the quarter to $435 million, pushing the full-year number up 1% to $1.7 billion thanks to a decrease in operating expenses.
  • Rogers' business solutions segment's revenue rose 1% to $96 million during the quarter, while full-year revenue increased 2% to $384 million. Meanwhile, adjusted operating profit was flat during the quarter at $30 million, though it rose 6% for the year to $123 million due to an increase in higher-margin services.
  • Finally, media segment revenue slumped 2% during the quarter to $500 million, though it was up 3% for the full year, at $2.1 billion. Adjusted operating profit also fell during the quarter, down 14% to $49 million, and it slipped 2% for the full year to $169 million. Contributing to the decline were fewer post-season games for the Toronto Blue Jays, lower advertising revenue, and lower circulation within its publishing division.
  • Overall, Rogers' results were right in the middle of its full-year guidance ranges. The company expected 1% to 3% increases in revenue, adjusted operating profit, and free cash flow and delivered increases of 2.1%, 1.2%, and 1.7%, respectively.

What management had to say

Interim CEO Alan Horn offered the following comments on the company's quarter:

We ended 2016 with continued momentum and strong operating performance in the fourth quarter. We maintained robust Wireless revenue growth, underpinned by strong subscriber metrics, and translated this to healthy adjusted operating profit. Internet results showed sustained strength as Rogers offers customers the fastest widely available Internet speeds in our marketplace. Our momentum to date as well as our commitment to further improve the customer experience, and enhance our execution, position us well to achieve our stronger growth targets for 2017.

One of the things Rogers is doing to enhance the customer experience within its cable division is to bring Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) X1 IPTV service to its customers by early next year after signing a long-term agreement with the cable and media giant. Rogers chose Comcast's solution over an internally developed product, resulting in the writedown of its $484 million investment.

However, Rogers is not the first cable company to choose Comcast's technology; rival Shaw Communications (NYSE: SJR) recently launched a Comcast-based product in Canada called BlueSky TV. That's noteworthy because Shaw Communications was Rogers' partner on the recently discontinued Shomi streaming service in Canada. For Rogers, the decision to partner with Comcast comes down to the superiority of the product, which it hopes will improve its customer experience and stop the steady stream of cord-cutting within its cable division.

Looking forward

Rogers sees its successes from last year carrying over and driving even better results in 2017, with the company expecting the growth rate to accelerate across all of its key financial metrics. Overall, the company sees revenue increasing by 3% to 5%, while adjusted operating profit and free cash flow should both rise by 2% to 4% in 2017.

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Matt DiLallo owns shares of Rogers Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Rogers Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.