BCE reports first quarter 2021 results
This news release contains forward-looking statements. For a description of the related risk factors and assumptions, please see the section entitled "Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" later in this news release.
MONTRÉAL, April 29, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - BCE Inc. (TSX: BCE), (NYSE: BCE) today reported results for the first quarter (Q1), including the first quarter of positive revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, and significant progress in Bell's broadband network acceleration program.
"As we celebrate the 141st anniversary of Bell's founding in Montréal today, our Q1 results highlight how the Bell team continues to step up to support our customers and communities in 2021. Keeping the country connected and informed while building momentum in a recovering economy, Bell delivered continued sequential quarterly improvement in our results, including positive revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth for the first time since the beginning of the COVID crisis," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "As we all deal with the ongoing social and economic challenges of COVID-19, Bell is focused on advancing how Canadians connect with each other and the world. Building the best networks, launching innovative services and delivering the most compelling content is supporting an improved growth trajectory for Canada's largest communications company and delivering positive benefits for all our stakeholders."
"The speed and quality of our networks, the exclusive services that leverage them and our team's commitment to champion customer experience helped grow Bell's broadband market share in Q1 with 108,468 net new mobile, retail Internet and IPTV customers – a 51% increase over Q1 last year – alongside continued leadership in traditional and digital media platforms," said Mr. Bibic. "We're building on this success with our accelerated fibre, rural and 5G network rollout program now under way to support Canada's ongoing recovery and long-term broadband leadership, reflected in our significantly increased capital investment and network connection numbers in Q1, as we also continue to invest in our communities. Consistently ranked as one of Canada's greenest companies and a key enabler of a sustainable economy, Bell is leading the way in international environmental certification and our commitment to carbon neutral operations in 2025. With the continuing crisis impacting the mental health of students across the country, Bell Let's Talk was proud to invest in colleges and universities across the country to support their rollout of new mental health national standards for post-secondary students."
KEY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTS
Bell's continued ESG leadership
Build the best networks: Top speeds, coverage acceleration
Driving growth with innovative services
Champion customer experience
Deliver the most compelling content
BCE Q1 RESULTS
"Bell's Q1 results represent a promising start to the year, reflecting significantly better performance trajectories and steady sequential quarterly improvement across all our business segments," said Glen LeBlanc, Chief Financial Officer for BCE and Bell Canada. "Bell's strengthening performance, including ongoing strong free cash flow generation, further solidified our very healthy financial position, with $6.5 billion of available liquidity at the end of Q1 and a historic pension plan solvency surplus position that bodes well for the possibility of a pension contribution holiday on our larger defined benefits plans in the near future. As we re-confirm our guidance targets for 2021. Bell is well positioned to execute our network acceleration plans, including participation in the upcoming federal 5G spectrum auction, while delivering sustainable dividend growth to our shareholders."
BCE OPERATING RESULTS BY SEGMENT
COMMON SHARE DIVIDEND
OUTLOOK FOR 2021
Due to uncertainties relating to the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the current resurgence and possible future resurgences in the number of COVID-19 cases, and various potential outcomes, it is difficult at this time to estimate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business or future financial results and related assumptions. Our business and financial results could continue to be significantly and negatively impacted in future periods. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to adversely impact us will depend on future developments that are difficult to predict, including the prevalence of COVID-19 variants that are more contagious and may lead to increased health risks, the timely distribution of effective vaccines and treatments, and the potential development and distribution of new vaccines and treatments, as well as new information which may emerge concerning the severity, duration and resurgences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions required to contain the coronavirus or remedy its impacts, among others. Please see the section entitled "Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" later in this news release for a description of the principal assumptions on which BCE's 2021 financial guidance targets are based, as well as the principal related risk factors.
CALL WITH FINANCIAL ANALYSTS
A live audio webcast of the conference call will be available on BCE's website at BCE Q1-2021 conference call.
(1) The terms adjusted net earnings and adjusted EPS do not have any standardized meaning under IFRS. Therefore, they are unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers. We define adjusted net earnings as net earnings attributable to common shareholders before severance, acquisition and other costs, net mark-to-market losses (gains) on derivatives used to economically hedge equity settled share-based compensation plans, net losses (gains) on investments, early debt redemption costs, impairment of assets and discontinued operations, net of tax and non-controlling interest (NCI). We define adjusted EPS as adjusted net earnings per BCE common share. We use adjusted net earnings and adjusted EPS, and we believe certain investors and analysts use these measures, among other ones, to assess the performance of our businesses without the effects of severance, acquisition and other costs, net mark-to-market losses (gains) on derivatives used to economically hedge equity settled share-based compensation plans, net losses (gains) on investments, early debt redemption costs, impairment of assets and discontinued operations, net of tax and NCI. We exclude these items because they affect the comparability of our financial results and could potentially distort the analysis of trends in business performance. Excluding these items does not imply they are non-recurring. The most comparable IFRS financial measures are net earnings attributable to common shareholders and EPS. The following table is a reconciliation of net earnings attributable to common shareholders and EPS to adjusted net earnings on a consolidated basis and per BCE common share (adjusted EPS), respectively.
($ millions except per share amounts)
(2) The terms adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin do not have any standardized meaning under IFRS. Therefore, they are unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers. We define adjusted EBITDA as operating revenues less operating costs, as shown in BCE's consolidated income statements. Adjusted EBITDA for BCE's segments is the same as segment profit as reported in Note 3, Segmented information, in BCE's Q1 2021 consolidated Financial Statements. We define adjusted EBITDA margin as adjusted EBITDA divided by operating revenues. We use adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin to evaluate the performance of our businesses as they reflect their ongoing profitability. We believe certain investors and analysts use adjusted EBITDA to measure a company's ability to service debt and to meet other payment obligations or as a common measurement to value companies in the telecommunications industry. We believe that certain investors and analysts also use adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin to evaluate the performance of our businesses. Adjusted EBITDA is also one component in the determination of short-term incentive compensation for all management employees. Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin have no directly comparable IFRS financial measure. Alternatively, the following table provides a reconciliation of net earnings to adjusted EBITDA.
(3) The term free cash flow does not have any standardized meaning under IFRS. Therefore, it is unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers. We define free cash flow as cash flows from operating activities, excluding cash from discontinued operations, acquisition and other costs paid (which include significant litigation costs) and voluntary pension funding, less capital expenditures, preferred share dividends and dividends paid by subsidiaries to NCI. We exclude cash from discontinued operations, acquisition and other costs paid and voluntary pension funding because they affect the comparability of our financial results and could potentially distort the analysis of trends in business performance. Excluding these items does not imply they are non-recurring. We consider free cash flow to be an important indicator of the financial strength and performance of our businesses because it shows how much cash is available to pay dividends on common shares, repay debt and reinvest in our company. We believe certain investors and analysts use free cash flow to value a business and its underlying assets and to evaluate the financial strength and performance of our businesses. The most comparable IFRS financial measure is cash flows from operating activities. The following table is a reconciliation of cash flows from operating activities to free cash flow on a consolidated basis.
(4) We use ABPU, churn, capital intensity and subscriber units to measure the success of our strategic imperatives. These key performance indicators are not accounting measures and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers.
CAUTION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Forward-looking statements, by their very nature, are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on several assumptions, both general and specific, which give rise to the possibility that actual results or events could differ materially from our expectations expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements and that our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities may not be achieved. These statements are not guarantees of future performance or events, and we caution you against relying on any of these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations as of April 29, 2021 and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as may be required by applicable securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. From time to time, we consider potential acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, business combinations, investments, monetizations, joint ventures and other transactions, some of which may be significant. Except as otherwise indicated by us, forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any such transactions or of special items that may be announced or that may occur after April 29, 2021. The financial impact of these transactions and special items can be complex and depends on the facts particular to each of them. We therefore cannot describe the expected impact in a meaningful way or in the same way we present known risks affecting our business. Forward-looking statements are presented in this news release for the purpose of assisting investors and others in understanding certain key elements of our expected financial results, as well as our objectives, strategic priorities and business outlook, and in obtaining a better understanding of our anticipated operating environment. Readers are cautioned that such information may not be appropriate for other purposes.
Canadian Economic Assumptions
Canadian Market Assumptions
Assumptions Concerning our Bell Wireless Segment
Our forward-looking statements are also based on the following internal operational assumptions with respect to our Bell Wireless segment:
Assumptions Concerning our Bell Wireline Segment
Assumptions Concerning our Bell Media Segment
Financial Assumptions Concerning BCE
The foregoing assumptions, although considered reasonable by BCE on April 29, 2021, may prove to be inaccurate. Accordingly, our actual results could differ materially from our expectations as set forth in this news release.
We caution that the foregoing list of risk factors is not exhaustive and other factors could also adversely affect our results. We encourage investors to also read BCE's 2020 Annual MD&A dated March 4, 2021 (included in BCE's 2020 Annual Report) and BCE's 2021 First Quarter MD&A dated April 28, 2021 for additional information with respect to certain of these and other assumptions and risks, filed by BCE with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities (available at Sedar.com) and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (available at SEC.gov). These documents are also available at BCE.ca.
Bell supports the social and economic prosperity of our communities with a commitment to the highest environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We measure our progress in increasing environmental sustainability, achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace, leading data governance and protection, and building stronger and healthier communities. This includes confronting the challenge of mental illness with the Bell Let's Talk initiative, which drives mental health awareness and action with programs like the annual Bell Let's Talk Day and Bell funding for community care, research and workplace programs nationwide all year round.
SOURCE Bell Canada
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