Rogers Communications Inc. reported lower first-quarter revenue as the economic slowdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic began to bite.
Chief executive Joe Natale said Rogers – which maintained its dividend and initiated a new share buyback plan on Wednesday – has a strong balance sheet that will help it navigate through the crisis.
“We began to see the impact of COVID-19 in the final few weeks of Q1 and have quickly adapted our operations to continue delivering critical services to meet the evolving needs of our customers,” Natale said.
“Our networks are seeing unprecedented levels of activity and demand. They continue to provide a resilient foundation for our customers now, and into the future, as our nation recovers and rebuilds.”
The wireless, cable and media company reported a $352-million net profit for the first three months of 2020, with net income of 68 cents per share, down from $391 million and 76 cents per share a year earlier.
Its adjusted earnings were $367 million or 71 cents per share, down from $405 million or 78 cents per share.
Revenue from the company’s wireless, cable and media divisions totalled nearly $3.42 billion, down five per cent from almost $3.59 billion a year earlier.
The revenue and adjusted earnings were below analyst estimates. On average, they had estimated $3.5 billion of revenue and 80 cents of adjusted earnings per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
All three major divisions saw lower revenue compared with last year, but the biggest decline was in media – which experienced a 12 per cent drop in top-line revenue compared with last year.
The company said its media sector – which includes the Toronto Blue Jays and several sport-focused media businesses – was affected by the suspension of all major sports leagues in March.
In early trading on Wednesday, Rogers shares gained about one per cent to trade at $58.01 at the Toronto Stock Exchange, up from a 2020 low close of $47.27 set on March 23.
The Toronto-based company is owner of the Rogers, Fido and Chatr wireless brands, internet-cable systems in three provinces, and a media and sports business that includes 55 radio stations, the Citytv network, Sportsnet and the Toronto Blue Jays.
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