BCE Inc. had $574 million in profit in the first quarter before adjustments — a 14.1 per cent increase from the same time last year, as its wireless networks and media operations powered revenue growth.
The Montreal-based company's adjusted profit was $580 million, or 75 cents per common share — three cents a share ahead of analyst estimates.
Its Bell telecommunications business provided $4.3 billion of revenue, up 11.6 per cent from $3.9 billion a year earlier.
Revenue just short of analyst estimates
Bell's profit before certain items was $1.6 billion, up 6.6 per cent from the same time last year.
BCE's overall operating revenue was $4.9 billion, up 9.9 per cent from $4.5 billion in the first quarter of 2011.
Analysts' estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters put revenue at $4.96 billion. and adjusted earnings per share was estimated at 73 cents.
The telecom giant has been expanding its media business by leaps and bounds, including repurchasing broadcaster CTV Inc. in the second quarter of 2011.
It's in the process of buying a large stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — owner of Toronto's major league hockey. basketball and soccer teams, among other things — and Astral Media, another radio and television company.
Those deals are yet to close but the Competition Bureau moved the MLSE deal forward on Wednesday when it announced it wouldn't block the deal, which BCE is doing in partnership with rival Rogers Communications Inc.
BCE has also announced plans to acquire Montreal-based specialty broadcaster Astral Media for $3.4-billion. That deal is expected to go through by this fall.
BCE's proposed takeover of Astral Media aims to create a media powerhouse that provide digital content to consumers online on their personal computers and tablets and on mobile devices like smartphones as well as traditional TV screens.
"We look forward to welcoming Montreal-based Astral Media to the Bell team later this year as Bell works to expand our media leadership, delivering the best content across the best networks to any broadband screens our customers choose," BCE chief executive George Cope said in the Thursday announcement.
He said Astral is expected to add to BCE's cash flow and earnings after the deal closes.
"Our execution in the first quarter demonstrated a solid start to the year, highlighted by strong wireless performance, stabilizing Business Markets performance, continued competitive price discounting in residential wireline, and Media results that delivered a strong contribution to earnings and cash flow."
BCE is Canada's largest communications company, and a longtime staple in investment portfolios designed to profit from steady growth companies with a solidly dependable dividend.
Aside from wireless and landline telephone services, broadband Internet and satellite TV, it also owns the CTV television network, a variety of specialty television channels and the former Chum radio stations.