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Canadian operator reports strong results for fourth quarter and full year 2017.
February 9, 2018
VANCOUVER -- (TSX:T)(NYSE:TU) TELUS Corporation -
Consolidated revenue and EBITDA growth of 4.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively
Strong customer growth, including 156,000 postpaid wireless, Internet and TV customer additions, up 23 per cent over last year
Postpaid wireless net additions of 121,000, up 39 per cent over last year; strongest quarterly result in five years
Leading broadband networks delivering strong wireline subscriber growth of 21,000, up 17 per cent over last year, with lowest residential network access line losses in 13 years
Industry-leading wireless postpaid churn of 0.99 per cent; fourth consecutive year churn below 1.00 per cent
Targeting 2018 consolidated revenue and EBITDA growth of up to 6 and 7 per cent; Free cash flow outlook of up to $1.4 billion in 2018
TELUS Corporation's consolidated operating revenue increased by 4.9 per cent to $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, over the same quarter a year ago, reflecting growth in wireless network revenue and wireline data services. Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 46 per cent to $1.1 billion due to higher revenue growth and lower restructuring and other costs as compared to the same quarter last year, partially offset by higher acquisition and retention costs. Adjusted EBITDA was up 4.7 per cent when excluding certain costs, including restructuring and other costs, which was impacted by the transformative compensation expense of $305 million in the same period a year ago.
"TELUS delivered strong fourth quarter operational and financial results, reflecting robust customer growth alongside healthy revenue and EBITDA expansion across both our wireless and wireline businesses", said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO. "Our continued strong performance is buttressed by the dedication of our incredible team to execute on our strategy in a highly competitive environment. The TELUS team's unparalleled commitment to providing consistently exceptional customer experiences contributed to TELUS achieving our fourth consecutive year of wireless churn below one per cent, supported by our highly differentiated service offerings and the ongoing investments we are making in our globally leading broadband networks."
Mr. Entwistle added, "The fourth quarter capped a strong year where we attained robust customer growth while achieving our annual revenue and EBITDA targets for the seventh consecutive year in a row. This proven, year-in-year-out execution by our team, gives us confidence in our 2018 targets announced today, including revenue growth up to 6 per cent and EBITDA growth up to 7 per cent. In addition, outlook for free cash flow is expected to be up to $1.4 billion."
Mr. Entwistle further commented, "Through the success of our broadband investments, we have demonstrated our ability to consistently drive long-term revenue and EBITDA growth, while simultaneously delivering on our shareholder-friendly initiatives. TELUS returned over $1.1 billion to shareholders in 2017. This builds on the more than $15 billion TELUS has returned to shareholders since 2004, representing over $25 per share. Consistent with the 7 per cent dividend growth achieved in 2017, following six consecutive years of circa 10 per cent annual dividend growth, we continue to target an additional 7 to 10 percent increase in 2018."
Doug French, TELUS Executive Vice-President and CFO said, "Our strong fourth quarter and 2017 results showcased the benefits of our strategic investments in our advanced broadband networks, strong asset mix geared towards the growth in data services, and proactive focus on operational effectiveness and margin accretion initiatives. As we head into 2018, we are well positioned to continue delivering strong financial and operating results as we build on our strong operating momentum. We remain focused on maintaining a strong balance sheet position as we continue to strategically invest in our broadband networks to support future profitable growth and increased free cash flow generation to support our dividend growth program. As previously announced, our capital investment program peaked in 2017, and is targeted to be $2.85 billion in 2018. Our free cash flow growth, and the objective to be free cash flow positive after dividends this year, will be driven by strong operational execution and focused capital spending."
In wireless, our network revenue increased by 5.4 per cent to $1.8 billion, reflecting postpaid subscriber growth, including smartphone adoption and subscribers we acquired from Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), higher ARPU as customers move to higher-rate plans, including Premium Plus, and increased data consumption. In wireline, our data services and equipment revenue increased by 6.0 per cent to $1.1 billion, reflecting increased Internet and enhanced data service revenues from continued high-speed Internet subscriber growth and higher revenue per customer, growth in business process outsourcing revenues inclusive of recent acquisitions and foreign exchange impacts on foreign operations, higher TELUS Health revenues driven by organic growth through additional professional services and support revenue, and through acquisitions, and an increase in TELUS TV revenues from subscriber growth.
In the quarter, we attracted 156,000 new postpaid wireless, high-speed Internet and TELUS TV customers, up 29,000 over the same quarter a year ago. The higher net additions included 121,000 wireless postpaid net additions, 21,000 high-speed Internet subscribers, and 14,000 TELUS TV customers. Our total wireless subscriber base of 8.9 million is up 3.8 per cent from a year ago, reflecting a 5.7 per cent increase in our postpaid subscriber base to 8.0 million. Our high-speed Internet connections have increased 5.3 per cent to more than 1.7 million over the last twelve months, while our TELUS TV subscriber base of 1.1 million is higher by 3.7 per cent.
For the quarter, net income of $282 million increased by $195 million over the same period a year ago while basic earnings per share (EPS) of $0.47 increased by $0.33 cents due to significantly lower restructuring and other costs. Adjusted net income of $328 million and adjusted EPS of $0.55 both increased by 3.8 per cent as EBITDA growth was partially offset by higher depreciation and amortization reflecting the significant investments we have made in the past few years, including our broadband networks, as well as those arising from business acquisitions.
Free cash flow of $274 million in the fourth quarter increased by $465 million over the same quarter a year ago mainly due to increased EBITDA, as the fourth quarter of 2016 included the impact of the $305 million transformative compensation expense, as well as lower capital expenditures and cash taxes paid.
Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T)
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