Rogers Q4 2015 earnings: wireless growth and Blue Jays offset TV losses

Daniel Bader

January 27, 2016 9:24am

Rogers today announced its Q4 2015 earnings, wherein the company says it earned $3.45 billion in revenue, with an adjusted net income of $331 million, or $0.64 per share. While revenue was up three percent over the same period a year ago, income was down seven percent on increased customer retention spending and lower TV and home phone sales. Rogers also missed analysts’ estimates as it spent more money on promotional plans and advertising during the quarter.

As it has for a number of years, Rogers’ overall growth was spurred by increased revenue in the wireless category, with a four percent year over year growth. The company added 31,000 new customers, up from a loss of 58,000 last Q4. Rogers now has a total of 9.88 million customers. More impressive was a decline in churn — that is, customers leaving the company — of 11 basis points to 1.35 percent. Rogers says improved customer service fundamentals led to a 26 percent decline in complaints, and a 12.7 percent decline in the number of customers contacting the company, improved retention. Telus still holds the national lead in churn at 0.97 percent, though that number increased for the first time in years last quarter.

Postpaid ARPA, or Average Revenue Per Account, increased $4.12 year over year, as more customers transitioned to higher-cost Share Everything plans. Rogers attributes the gain to the “customer-friendly” nature of the new plans, which bundle services like Shomi, Roam Like Home, Spotify and NHL GameCentre.

Network revenue increased three percent in the quarter despite a drop of nine percent in roaming revenue, attributable to the expansion of Roam Like Home, which attaches a flat per-day rate to traveling with one’s phone.

Rogers says that its LTE network now reaches 93 percent of Canadians, up from 84 percent this time in 2015.

In other divisions, the success of the Toronto Blue Jays helped boost Media revenues by three percent in the quarter, but overall Cable operations declined by two percent due to lower demand.

Rogers says that it has hedged the majority of its US expenditures, and it doesn’t expect the CRTC’s “skinny basic” TV regulations, which begin March 1st, “to materially impact our Cable operating revenue” in 2016.

As MobileSyrup mentioned earlier this week, Rogers has expanded its Roam Like Home service to include countries like China, Russia and India.

  • MassDeduction

    Interesting results. An increased focus on customer retention (as opposed to attracting new customers) is very smart. Much cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new customer. There’ll always be an attrition rate (people move away, pass away, etc.) so it’s not that new customers are irrelevant, it’s just not where a mature business should focus most of their attention IMO.

    • Aaron Hoyland

      A good point. The thing is, there are a limited number of potential new customers. There are only so many Canadians, and smartphone penetration rates are starting to reach market saturation. Eventually the Big Three are just swapping customers with one another, and likely earning less ARPU on each due to using promo plans and such to attract them.

      The problem is investors are growth-obsessed, and it’s difficult to earn ever-increasing revenue on a stable customer base.

    • danakin

      Might the big 3 actually have to compete on price (GASP) when market saturation levels get to 100% or a materially relevant % of 100?

    • Comrade Yeti

      Actually at that state they will absolutely not compete on price, as its a zero sum game

    • danakin

      That’s a really good point. Do you think an environment might exist where price is the front door to the “competition” but exclusive partner arrangement are the hooks that keep a customer from defecting?

    • Comrade Yeti

      When the average Canadian customer starts leaving or punishing carriers for bad calls. Despite every price increase consumers would rather have a new iPhone and whine about, but still pay, the new rate plans.

    • danakin

      I’m in full agreement; I just don’t know where Canadians can leave to and not give up the national coverage the big 3 provide. There’s an absence of choice in Canada that’s brought on by many factors including lack of international players, a huge land mass, and a relatively small population. I’m all ears if there are novel ideas.

    • MassDeduction

      Some investors are growth obsessed. Others are income obsessed. As a business reaches a saturation point, they tend to morph into a “utility”-style business that is focused on paying dividends to investors rather than growing top-line revenue.

    • MoYeung

      How many immigrants entered Canada in 2015? Those are new customers.

    • MassDeduction

      Yes and, as I noted, new customers are important to a business. To a new business new customers are crucial. To a mature business, new customers should be (IMO) secondary to maintaining your existing customer base.

  • Jaycap4

    I have been very happy with my Rogers service lately. You do pay a decently high price but getting Spotify and NHL Game Center makes it worth it for me.

    • awhite2600

      I am disappointed with how Game Centre works this year. Last year you could watch most of the games using your Rogers set top box – thus not using Internet/mobile bandwidth. Effectively you received NHL Centre Ice. This year the only option is to stream most games. A bit of a bait and switch.

    • RjPiston

      And they still have blackouts!!?!

    • awhite2600

      I’m told that the blackouts (which often make no sense) are enforced by the NHL, not Rogers.

  • fruvous

    How many job cuts and price increases will come from this?

  • Ricky Bobby

    A deep Blue Jay run and they still didn’t meet “revenue expectations”?

    Sounds like mismanagement to me. Rogers has their dirty hands on practically everything when it comes to the media and sports market.

  • mjmoon29

    Can anyone explain the advertising part of “spent more money on promotional plans and advertising during the quarter” with a media company? This should be an internal shuffle of dollars from left pocket to right, not an expense of any kind.

    • Jaycap4

      They were offering customers $100, $200 and $300 credits to signup or stay. As well as deep hardware discounts. I’m assuming these were a reaction and not a proactive offer which had an impact on profitability.

    • MoYeung

      Where and when did they offer those credits?

    • Even if Rogers were buying ads on their own media channels, that would still have an opportunity cost associated with *not* selling that ad space to a paying client.

    • awhite2600

      Agreed Brian Stock. Rogers also spends money on advertising outside of their own media outlets. I get a piece of Rogers junk mail a couple of times each month. I also see Rogers billboards, newspaper ads, etc.

  • Techguru86

    They will start dropping prices or offering more retention deals now that Wind has the money to spend on towers with Shaw, I’d like to see Wind/Sasktel/eastlink and Videotron all piggyback off each other with some deal and force the others to come down

    • Do Do

      You do understand Shaw will be raising the prices right? In fact I think their ceo said as much in a interview.

    • Swerve Brussee

      Exact this. Network expansion doesn’t come free I see a price hike in winds future.