A slight decline in Telus Corp.’s first quarter net profit compared with last year was due largely to higher financing costs and higher income taxes, the Vancouver-based telecommunications company said Thursday.
Its profit attributable to shareholders was $410 million or 69 cents per share for the quarter ended March 31, down from $414 million or 70 cents per share a year ago.
That included $151 million of financing costs, up from $138 million in the first quarter of 2017, as well as $151 million of income taxes, up from $143 million a year earlier.
The increased financing costs were due largely to higher debts associated with investments in fibre networks to homes and in wireless technology.
The increased income tax reflected an increase to the B.C. corporate tax rate.
On an adjusted basis, Telus earned $435 million or 73 cents per share for the quarter compared with $418 million or 71 cents per share a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 75 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Operating revenue for the quarter totalled nearly $3.38 billion, up about six per cent from $3.18 billion in the same quarter last year, primarily due to higher wireless service revenue and wireline data services revenue.
Its postpaid wireless subscriber base increased by 48,000 in the quarter, a 5.7 per cent bigger increase than a year earlier, partly offset by a decline in prepaid subscribers, who account for about one-tenth of the total.
The company also added 22,000 high-speed internet customers and 6,000 Telus TV subscribers — about the same level as the first quarter of 2017.
“Our longstanding focus on building leading networks and relentless focus on operational efficiency, combined with maintaining a strong balance sheet, is fuelling strong and profitable growth while supporting our leading and long-standing dividend growth program,” Telus chief financial officer Doug French said in a statement
The company also announced Thursday that it will raise its quarterly dividend to shareholders for the second time in a year. It will pay 52.5 cents per share in July, up from 49.25 cents per share in July 2017 and 50.5 cents per share in January.
The announcements came ahead of the Telus annual meeting of shareholders in Vancouver.
The company’s stock down down 1.4 per cent, or 66 cents, to $45.27 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.