Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- BCE Inc., Canada’s second-largest wireless carrier, fell the most in two years after reporting fourth-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates as it spent more to keep customers from switching to competitors.
Per-share profit, excluding some items, was 62 Canadian cents (62 cents), Montreal-based BCE said in a statement today, less than the average prediction of analysts for earnings of 66 cents. The Bell Mobility unit added 131,986 mobile-phone subscribers on contract last quarter, missing an estimate from Maher Yaghi, an analyst at Desjardins Securities.
This shows that “competitive pressures in the markets are accelerating,” said Yaghi, who recommends buying BCE shares.
BCE fell 3 percent to $39.62 at the close in Toronto for its biggest decline since December 2009. The shares have gained 8.3 percent in the past 12 months.
BCE spent more on phone subsidies to keep prices for users lower last quarter. Chief Executive Officer George Cope told analysts on a conference call today that he’s seen “no letup in the competitive intensity.” Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, Videotron and Public Mobile began operating in the past two years, vowing to to break the dominance of Bell, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp., which together control more than 90 percent of Canada’s mobile-phone market.
--Editors: Romaine Bostick, Cecile Daurat
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