Rogers posts earnings hike on mobile growth

But says competition, soft economy clouds outlook

TORONTO -- Canadian mobile and cable giant Rogers Communications boosted its first quarter earnings Wednesday by adding digital cable offerings and squeezing out more data revenue growth from its iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphone customers.

But Toronto-based Rogers warned new mobile competition and a soft Canadian economy has clouded its future outlook.

Rogers saw earnings rise 23% to CAN$380 million ($375 million), from CAN$309 million, on revenue from its core mobile, cable and media businesses increasing 5% to CAN$2.88 billion ($2.85 billion), against CAN$2.74 billion in 2009.

The media group has worked hard to trim operating costs. Cable and wireless costs grew 3% during the latest quarter, against wireless revenue growing 8% to CAN$1.66 billion ($1.64 billion), cable revenue rose 6% to CAN$789 million ($781 million) and media, including radio and TV operations, saw revenue rise 6% to CAN$301 million ($298.5 million).

The mobile giant faces headwinds from traditional rivals Bell Mobility and Telus Corp. following Rogers in offering the Apple iPhone to their subscribers, and new mobile entrants coming into the market.

Rogers executives told analysts during a morning call that it will continue to pursue high-value smartphone customers, as rivals continue to grab share from the lower end of the mobile market.