Rogers Communications delivers solid Q4

Wireless phone network revenue growth up 5%

TORONTO -- Canadian mobile and cable giant Rogers Communications launched a CAN$1.5 billion ($1.43 billion) share buyback after swinging to a fourth quarter profit on higher revenue.

Despite the weak economy, Toronto-based Rogers posted earnings for the three months to December 31 at CAN$310 million ($297 million), against a year-earlier loss of CAN$138 million, on revenue rising 4% to CAN$3.05 billion ($2.9 billion), compared to CAN$2.94 billion in 2008.

"As you can see from this morning's release, we delivered another very solid quarter's results, despite the challenging economy and an increase in competitive environment in Q4," Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed told analysts during a morning conference call.

The earnings driver for Rogers was wireless phone network revenue growth, which rose 5% during the latest quarter to CAN$1.73 billion ($1.65 billion).

Rogers' traditional cable TV business saw revenue rise 7% to just under CAN$800 million ($765 million).

The Canadian media group faces stiff headwinds in its mobile phone business, with new HSPA wireless network competition from rivals Telus Corp. and Bell Canada, and new market entrants like Wind Mobile.

That new rivalry could squeeze Rogers' average revenue per-user from bundled subscribers going forward, analysts warn.

"We assume that these competitive threats could drive down Rogers Wireless' margins significantly over time," Dvai Ghose of Genuity Capital Markets wrote in an investor note.
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