Shaw Announces Third Quarter Results
Cable TV subscribers grow for the first time since 2010, with Consumer and Wireless divisions gaining 58,000 subscribers.
Addition of low-band spectrum is a significant milestone towards improving network coverage and quality across Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.Enhanced financial flexibility going forward with pro forma net debt to operating income before restructuring costs and amortization below 2.0x.
June 28, 2017
Calgary, Alberta (June 28, 2017) —Shaw Communications Inc. today announced consolidated financial and operating results for the quarter ended May 31, 2017. Revenue from continuing operations for the quarter of $1.31 billion increased by 2.8% over the comparable period. Operating income before restructuring costs and amortization1 for the quarter of $550 million decreased 0.5% over the comparable period.
Chief Executive Officer, Brad Shaw said, “Strong subscriber growth in both cable video and Internet reflects our continued focus on delivering leading customer service and innovative products to the market including WideOpen Internet 150 and BlueSky TV. The recently announced acquisition of spectrum will add critical wireless capacity and capability to our network, adding to our foundation that will make us Canada’s leading connectivity provider.”
Mr. Shaw added, “We are confident that the acquisition of 700 MHz and 2500 MHz spectrum from Quebecor Media Inc., combined with Freedom’s current portfolio of assets, will materially improve our customer experience and will further enable our ability to offer best-in-class converged network solutions. With our customers’ future connectivity needs at the heart of every strategic decision we make, we are excited about the opportunity this additional spectrum presents and the compelling wireless experience we will continue to create for our existing and future customers.”
In the quarter, Shaw delivered a net gain of over 38,000 revenue generating units (“RGUs”) in the Consumer division representing a substantial improvement over the approximately 47,000 RGU losses in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. The Consumer division’s net gains in the quarter included the addition of approximately 20,000 Internet RGUs, 12,000 cable video RGUs, and 6,000 satellite video RGUs. This trend of year-over-year improvement is attributed to strong Internet subscriber growth led by WideOpen Internet 150, compelling bundle and value plan offerings driving notable reductions in disconnects, and by the launch of BlueSky TV across Shaw’s entire cable video footprint. This quarter’s subscriber result also represents the division’s first positive net video RGU quarter since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.
In Wireless, the Company continued to grow postpaid and prepaid wireless subscribers, gaining a combined 20,000 RGUs in the quarter, as compared to approximately 22,000 RGUs in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. The LTE-A network deployment continued ahead of schedule, with upgrades now complete in the GTA, Hamilton, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary and with LTE roaming launched in Canada and in the U.S. The handset lineup has continued to expand, with a total of nine handsets compatible with the AWS-3 LTE network, including LG, Samsung, Sony and ZTE. On April 25, 2017, Freedom Mobile launched another key enhancement with Wi-Fi calling, which enables calls to be made at no cost from outside the cellular calling area, or at indoor locations.
Operating income before restructuring costs and amortization for the three and nine month periods of $550 million and $1.63 billion, respectively, compared to $553 million and $1.56 billion in fiscal 2016. The slight decrease in the quarter is attributed primarily to higher operating expenses in the Consumer division driven by costs related to marketing the launch of BlueSky TV and other corporate related costs. Increases in the Wireless, Business Network Services and Business Infrastructure Services divisions substantially offset the year-over-year decline in the Consumer division.
Free cash flow for the three and nine month periods of $132 million and $436 million, respectively, compared to $182 million and $473 million in fiscal 2016. The decrease in free cash flow was largely due to higher planned capital expenditures and by the loss of free cash flow generated in the prior year by the former Media division which was sold on April 1, 2016.
Net income for the current quarter of $133 million decreased $571 million relative to $704 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2016 mainly due to prior year income from the discontinued Media and fleet tracking operations, and the gain on the sale of the Media operation in the amount of $630 million. Excluding discontinued operations, net income from continuing operations increased by $90 million compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2016 driven primarily by lower non-operating costs.
On June 13, 2017, Shaw announced that it entered a share purchase agreement with GI Partners portfolio company Peak 10 Holding Corporation to sell 100% of its wholly owned subsidiary, ViaWest, Inc. for US$1.675 billion (approximately C$2.3 billion). The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including U.S. regulatory approval, and is expected to close by the end of fiscal 2017.
On June 13, 2017, Shaw also announced that it entered a definitive agreement with Quebecor Media Inc. to acquire 700 MHz and 2500 MHz wireless spectrum licences held by Quebecor’s subsidiary, Videotron, for $430 million. The spectrum transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including necessary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the summer of 2017. The Company estimates capital expenditures associated with the deployment of the acquired spectrum to be approximately $350 million. The Company expects the majority of the capital related to the network build to be incurred during fiscal 2018, which reinforces Shaw’s commitment to the wireless space, and improves its long-term wireless growth prospects.
Heading into the final quarter of fiscal 2017, the Company is refining its full year fiscal 2017 financial guidance for operating income before restructuring costs and amortization to range between $2.135 and $2.160 billion, capital investment of approximately $1.35 billion and free cash flow of approximately $400 million. These refinements include the results of the Business Infrastructure Services division, comprised primarily of ViaWest, Inc., through the end of fiscal 2017 and reflect a modest acceleration of capital spend associated primarily with strategic network enhancements and the evolving wireless platform. Providing both the sale of ViaWest, Inc. and the acquisition of spectrum are completed in the near term, the Company expects its ratio of debt to operating income before restructuring costs and amortization1 to be below the low end of its target 2.0 to 2.5x and the $1.5 billion credit facility to be fully undrawn.
Mr. Shaw concluded, “We have built a long term strategy to serve the connectivity needs of Canadians and will continue to focus on execution. Our first step was the launch of WideOpen Internet 150, which transformed the marketplace by offering significantly faster speeds at affordable prices across 99% of our wireline footprint. Our next step was becoming the first in Canada to launch BlueSky TV, a truly revolutionary viewing experience featuring "TV you can talk to." And earlier this month, we took a bold step forward for our wireless business in acquiring spectrum that will enhance our network capabilities and our capacity to offer affordable wireless service on a more robust network. Shaw’s business performance coupled with the recent announcements showcase an unwavering commitment to our growth strategy.”
Shaw Communications Inc. is an enhanced connectivity provider. Our Consumer division serves consumers with broadband Internet, Shaw Go WiFi, video and digital phone. Our Wireless division provides wireless voice and data services through an expanding and improving mobile wireless network infrastructure. The Business Network Services division provides business customers with Internet, data, WiFi, telephony, and video services. The Business Infrastructure Services division, through ViaWest, provides hybrid IT solutions including colocation, cloud computing and security and compliance for North American enterprises.
Shaw is traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges and is included in the S&P/TSX 60 Index (Symbol: TSX - SJR.B, SJR.PR.A, SJR.PR.B, NYSE – SJR, and TSXV – SJR.A). For more information, please visit www.shaw.ca.
The accompanying Management’s Discussion and Analysis (“MD&A”) forms part of this news release and the “Caution concerning forward-looking statements” applies to all the forward-looking statements made in this news release.
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Shaw Investor Relations