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BCE INC. $51.08 – Toronto symbol BCE

BCE INC. $51.08 (Toronto symbol BCE; Shares outstanding: 778.1 million; Market cap: $41.8 billion; TSINetwork Rating: Above Average; Dividend yield: 4.8%; www.bce.ca) is Canada’s largest provider of telephone, Internet and wireless services. It also offers satellite and Internet TV across the country.

In the three months ended September 30, 2014, BCE’s earnings per share rose 10.7%, to $0.83 from $0.75 a year earlier. Revenue increased 1.9%, to $5.2 billion from $5.1 billion.

Revenue from wireless services (31% of the total) rose 7.0%. The company’s network upgrades continue to attract new wireless subscribers. It’s also gaining from rising use of smartphones, for which it charges higher service fees than regular cellphones.

The wireline division (47% of total revenue), saw its sales fall just 0.7%. Strong growth from Bell’s Fibe high-speed Internet TV service is increasingly offsetting the loss of traditional phone users.

The company has completed the purchase of the 56% of Bell Aliant that it didn’t already own for $3.95 billion in cash and stock. Buying full control of Bell Aliant should increase BCE’s earnings by 7.0%, to $3.20 a share in 2014 from $2.99 in 2013. The stock trades at 16.0 times that forecast. The $2.47 dividend yields a high 4.8%.

BCE is still a safety-conscious buy.

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