Shaw second-quarter earnings boom

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TORONTO -- Canadian cable operator Shaw Communications on Friday reported tripled second-quarter earnings on higher demand for its cable, Internet and phone services and a CAN$188 million ($184 million) tax recovery.

Calgary-based Shaw, which dominates the western Canadian cable market, said that it earned CAN$299 million ($293 million) during the three months ending Feb. 29, compared with a profit of CAN$80 million in 2007.

Excluding the one-time gain from a lower income tax rate, Shaw said it earned CAN$113 million ($110.5 million) during the latest quarter.

Overall, revenue rose 11% to CAN$763 million ($748 million), with cable revenue up 13% to CAN$582 million ($570.5 million). Shaw's digital phone business contributed another CAN$56.5 million ($55.3 million), up 13% from last year's performance.

Shaw added just 6,524 basic cable subscribers during the second quarter, taking its base to 2.24 million customers. The cable operator signed up 56,536 new digital phone customers for 492,232 customers in all.

Shaw also added 4,977 new direct-broadcast-satellite customers for its Star Choice Entertainment service, to get to 886,106 subscribers. And the company added 31,517 high-speed Internet access customers to stand at 1.517 million subscribers.

Jim Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications, told analysts during a Friday conference call that his company was "well on track" at the half-year stage to meet free cash flow guidance of CAN$450 million ($441 million) for fiscal 2008.
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