Shaw Announces First Quarter Fiscal 2019 Results
January 14, 2019
- Consolidated revenue increased 8.8% and operating income before restructuring costs and amortization 1 improved 13.5% year-over-year due to the continued growth in Wireless, Business and Consumer Internet and the realization of cost saving initiatives
- Continued momentum in Wireless supported by innovative, data-centric offerings resulted in strong postpaid Wireless subscriber additions of over 86,000 in the quarter and 12% year-over-year growth in average billing per subscriber unit ("ABPU") 2 to $41.99
- Significant improvement in Wireless postpaid churn 2 to 1.28% compared to first quarter fiscal 2018
Calgary, Alberta (January 14, 2019) - Shaw Communications Inc. ("Shaw" or the "Company") announces consolidated financial and operating results for the quarter ended November 30, 2018 reported in accordance with the newly adopted IFRS 15 accounting standard, Revenue from contracts with customers (IFRS 15). Revenue from continuing operations increased by approximately 8.8% to $1.36 billion compared to the first quarter in fiscal 2018 and operating income before restructuring costs and amortization increased 13.5% year-over-year to $545 million.
"We continue to build momentum in our Wireless business by leveraging our significant network investments and offering affordable and innovative data plans. In addition, never seen before promotions in Canada, such as the Big Binge Bonus that was recently introduced, provides a strong value proposition to Canadians who increasingly want and use more wireless data," said Brad Shaw, Chief Executive Officer. "Our strategy to invest and focus on growing our Wireless postpaid market share has delivered another quarter of strong results, adding over 86,000 postpaid customers while improving Wireless postpaid churn from 1.64% to 1.28% over the last year due to significant and ongoing enhancements to our network and customer experience. Through these investments, we are attracting and retaining customers with higher lifetime value."
The Company continues to deploy its 700 MHz spectrum, which is now approximately 25% complete, including initial deployment in all its major markets. Deployment of this low band spectrum provides customers with farther-reaching coverage and stronger indoor wireless reception. Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) is substantially complete and has been enabled on approximately 35 devices on Freedom's network representing approximately 800,000 of its total subscriber base. In the quarter, the Company completed the launch of 140 new retail locations with Walmart and is now operating in a combined total of approximately 240 national retail locations across its footprint with Loblaws' 'The Mobile Shop' and Walmart. When combined with its existing corporate and dealer store network, Freedom Mobile now has over 600 retail locations in operation.
Mr. Shaw continued, " We have taken some important steps this quarter in our Wireline segment, adding Consumer Internet subscribers, doubling the speeds of our top Internet tiers, and stabilizing revenue through our fresh approach to base management, which includes a balanced and digital focus on acquisition and retention. While we are still early days in our journey towards a modern Shaw, I am encouraged by the progress we have made as we improve upon the fundamentals of our business, further supporting the delivery of our broadband strategy throughout fiscal 2019."
Wireline results include Consumer Internet growth of approximately 5,600 RGUs contributing to stable year-over-year Consumer revenue while the Business segment continues to deliver consistent top-line growth with revenue increasing 5.0% in the quarter. Combined with reduced expenses, primarily due to the voluntary departure program ("VDP") initiated in fiscal 2018, Wireline margins improved to approximately 46% as the Company continues to focus on profitable and stable growth.
Selected Financial Highlights
Fiscal 2019 and restated fiscal 2018 results are reported in accordance with IFRS 15. Supplementary information is provided in the accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A"), under the heading "Accounting Standards", which discusses our previous revenue recognition policies and the changes on adoption of the new standard.
In the quarter, the Company added approximately 66,000 net Wireless RGUs, consisting of over 86,000 postpaid additions and 20,000 prepaid losses, compared to the 34,000 net RGUs achieved in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The increase in the postpaid customer base reflects continued customer demand for premium smartphones combined with device pricing and packaging options, affordable data centric plans, and the Company's ongoing execution of its wireless growth strategy to improve the network and customer experience. More than half of the prepaid losses in the quarter included customer migrations to higher value postpaid plans while the other half was attributable to a more active competitive environment targeting the prepaid segment.
Consolidated Wireless revenue for the three-month period improved by 60% to $273 million over the comparable period in fiscal 2018. In the quarter, service revenue increased 32% to $167 million and equipment revenue of $106 million compared to $44 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Growth in Wireless revenue is due primarily to continued subscriber growth, the growing penetration of Big Gig data plans and higher equipment sales. As a result, ABPU grew 12% year-over-year to $41.99 reflecting the increased number of customers that are subscribing to higher service plans and purchasing a device through Freedom. Average revenue per subscriber unit ("ARPU") 2 of $38.64 increased almost 7% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2018 and reflects the changes in accounting policies upon the adoption of IFRS 15, whereby a portion of the device subsidy, previously fully allocated to equipment revenue, is allocated to service revenue. First quarter Wireless operating income before restructuring costs and amortization of $45 million improved 36.4% year-over-year due primarily to increased service revenue.
Wireline RGUs declined by approximately 52,800 in the quarter compared to a loss of approximately 34,000 in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The current quarter includes growth in Consumer Internet RGUs of approximately 5,600 whereas the mature products within the Consumer division, Video and Phone, continued to decline.
First quarter Wireline revenue and operating income before restructuring costs and amortization of $1,083 million and $500 million improved by 0.7% and 11.9% year-over-year, respectively. Consumer revenue remained flat at $936 million compared to the prior year as contributions from rate adjustments and growth in Internet revenue were offset by declines in Video, Satellite and Phone subscribers and revenue. Business revenue increased 5.0% year-over-year to $147 million, reflecting continued demand for our SmartSuite of business products. First quarter Wireline results also include operating costs savings of approximately $25 million related to the VDP and lower marketing costs as compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2018.
Capital expenditures in the first quarter of $271 million decreased by $68 million compared to a year ago. Wireline capital spending decreased by approximately $18 million primarily due to fewer network upgrades and decreased deployment of customer premise equipment. Wireless spending decreased by approximately $50 million year-over-year. Investments in the Wireless network, retail footprint expansion and deployment of low band spectrum are expected to increase over the coming quarter and for the remainder of fiscal 2019.
Free cash flow for the quarter of $164 million compared to $64 million in the prior year. The increase for the quarter was largely due to higher operating income before restructuring costs and amortization and lower capital expenditures offset in part by higher cash taxes and lower dividends received from our equity accounted associates.
Net income for the quarter of $187 million compared to net income of $111 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2018 driven primarily by an increase in operating income before restructuring costs and amortization.
On November 2, 2018, the Company solidified its balance sheet through the issuance of $1 billion in senior notes, comprised of $500 million at a rate of 3.80% due November 2, 2023 and $500 million at a rate of 4.40% due November 2, 2028. The funds will be used for general corporate purposes which may include the repayment of indebtedness.
In the first quarter of fiscal 2019, approximately 220 employees exited the Company in relation to the VDP, bringing the total number of employees who departed under the VDP to over 1,500 employees since the program commenced in March 2018. This led to operating cost reductions of approximately $25 million and capital cost reductions of approximately $6 million in the quarter. See also "Introduction," "Other Income and Expense Items," and "Caution Concerning Forward Looking Statements," in the accompanying MD&A for a discussion of the Total Business Transformation ("TBT"), the VDP and the risks and assumptions associated therewith.
The Company confirms that it remains on track to meet its fiscal 2019 guidance, which includes consolidated operating income before restructuring costs and amortization growing 4% to 6% over fiscal 2018; capital investments of approximately $1.2 billion; and free cash flow in excess of $500 million. The Company's guidance includes assumptions related to cost reductions that will be achieved through TBT initiatives (specifically the VDP savings) that are expected to amount to a combined $140 million of operating and capital savings in fiscal 2019 (approximately $85 million attributed to operating expenses and approximately $55 million attributed to capital expenditures). See also "Caution Concerning Forward Looking Statements" in the accompanying MD&A.
Mr. Shaw concluded, "First quarter results represent a solid start to fiscal 2019 where we expect to continue to grow our Wireless business with our innovative and data centric plans that leverage our continuously improving network. We also expect to increase our market share in Western Canada as we expand our network into new cities throughout 2019, including Victoria and Red Deer, which are set to launch in the coming weeks. In our Wireline business, we remain focused on growing broadband subscribers and have an exciting IP roadmap that will launch this year, differentiating our already strong broadband proposition. We remain focused on the execution of our Wireline and Wireless operating priorities while transforming into an agile, lean and digital-first organization that meets the needs of its customers now and into the future."
Shaw Communications Inc. is a leading Canadian connectivity company. The Wireline division consists of Consumer and Business services. Consumer serves residential customers with broadband Internet, Shaw Go WiFi, video and digital phone. Business provides business customers with Internet, data, WiFi, digital phone and video services. The Wireless division provides wireless voice and LTE data services through an expanding and improving mobile wireless network infrastructure.
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
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