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Telus net profit increases by almost 23% in Q4; expects to meet targets in 2013

Telus Corp. (TSX:T) has capped what its CEO is calling an “exceptional year” with an almost 23 per cent increase in fourth-quarter profit and expects to meet its financial goals in 2013.

Net earnings were $291 million, or 89 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, Telus said Friday.

“Our company is positioned well to achieve our 2013 financial targets and continue to advance our national growth strategy,” chief executive Darren Entwistle told analysts on a conference call.

“We firmly believe that Telus will continue to build on this extraordinary momentum in 2013 and beyond,” he said.

Entwistle said he would update shareholders at Telus’s annual meeting in May on its dividend and share buyback plans.

The Vancouver-based provider of wireless, Internet and television services and home phone services said its profit was $237 million, or 76 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2011. Both periods included favourable tax-related adjustments of $10 million.

Earnings per share on an adjusted basis were 86 cents in the quarter, missing the average estimate of analysts compiled by Thomson Reuters by a penny per share.

Revenue rose to $2.85 billion from $2.69 billion.

In its wireless division, Telus had 123,000 net postpaid wireless customers, down 17 per cent from the same quarter in 2011.

Wireless revenues increased by $109 million or 7.7 per cent to more than $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to the same period a year ago.

Data revenue increased by $104 million or 22 per cent to $570 million, which makes up 41 per cent of wireless network revenue.

The company added 41,000 new TV subscribers and 23,000 high-speed Internet customers, partially offset by losses of prepaid wireless customers, phone lines and dial-up Internet.

The company’s wireless subscriber base of 7.7 million was up 4.5 per cent year over year, the Telus TV subscriber base of 678,000 was up 33 per cent and the number of high-speed Internet customers was up nearly seven per cent to 1.3 million.

Telus recently told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is holding public hearings into industry practices, that a $50 cap on extra wireless data charges such as roaming fees would be too low.

Under the CRTC’s draft wireless code, wireless companies would have to suspend some services when a customer reaches either $50 in additional charges over and above what they pay for their monthly plan — through roaming fees, for example — or an amount each consumer would set.

Telus has told the commission it already caps charges incurred outside Canada at $200.

The company now has just one class of common shares after consolidating both voting and non-voting shares after a lengthy battled with U.S. hedge fund Mason Capital Management. Mason wanted the voting shares to be given a higher value in any consolidation.

At one time, the hedge fund was the largest shareholder in Telus, but has since reduced its stake.