By David Berman
Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE:RCI) was left beaten up on Wednesday after the cable and wireless company reported its fourth quarter financials. On the surface, things looked good: Earnings were in line with expectations, the company boosted its dividend by 10% and renewed a $1.5 billion stock buyback program. Plus, all four analysts who have weighed in since the results were released have maintained their “buy” recommendations and target prices, suggesting that they are not disappointed.
So what has turned investors against the stock?
One glaring miss in Rogers' results related to the number of net new wireless subscribers that Rogers added during the quarter – an increasingly important figure as the wireless competition heats up in Canada with new entrants into the fast-growing marketplace.
During the fourth quarter, Rogers added 128,000 more wireless subscribers than it lost, which is a weaker gain than some observers had been expecting. That, in turn, might be leading to some hand-wringing over whether Rogers has what it takes to thrive in the difficult months ahead. Maher Yaghi, an analyst at Desjardins Securities, had expected net additions of 167,000 subscribers during the quarter.
Analysts did note, however, that Rogers is attracting more of the so-called high-quality smartphone subscribers (think BlackBerry and iPhone), who tend to rack up bigger bills than run-of-the-mill subscribers.