Shaw Communications Inc Class B SJR
Q1 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 01/12/2012

Operator: Welcome to Shaw Communications' Fiscal 2012 First Quarter Conference Call. Today's call will be hosted by Mr. Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. If the press has any questions, please contact Mr. Shaw's office after the call.

Before we begin, management would like to remind listeners that comments made during today's call will include forward-looking information and there are risks that actual results could differ materially. Please refer to the Company's publicly filed documents for more details on assumptions and risks.

Mr. Shaw, I would now turn the call over to you.

Bradley S. Shaw - CEO: Thank you, operator, and thanks to everyone for joining us today to discuss our first quarter results for fiscal 2012.

With me today are members of the senior management team, including Peter Bissonnette, President; Steve Wilson, Chief Financial Officer; Jay Mehr, Senior Vice President of Operations; Jean Brazeau, Senior Vice President of Regulatory; Michael D'Avella, Senior Vice President of Planning; Paul Robertson, President of Shaw Media, and Jim Cummins, Group Vice President, Shaw Satellite Operations.

Another fiscal year is underway and we are extremely proud of the fact that 2012 marks a significant milestone in Shaw's history as we are celebrating 40 years of growth and success in Canada. We have a superb leadership team and a tradition of employee commitment and engagement that resonates throughout our organization. The Shaw team of over 13,000 employees drives and delivers results for all of our stakeholders.

Our goal this year is to continue our history and our track records of delivering exceptional products and service to our 3.1 million customers across the country and to create value for our shareholders.

Fiscal 2012 is off to a great start. As first quarter financial results were solid and we generated almost a $120 million in free cash flow. Recently, there has been some concern regarding our approach to the competitive environment. Promotional activity has been a reality in our business for a number of years and has been embedded in our financial results.

In the past, a lot of our promotional activity has been tactical and not necessarily in the public or media spotlight. Beginning in the latter part of 2011, we embarked on a strategy that entails more mass marketing of some of our offers.

This does not represent a doubling down of the promotional activity, as we have simply shifted some of our tactics towards our promotional efforts. We remain focused on balancing subscriber results and profitability and continuing to maintain our industry leading margin performance.

Over the years, we have made a number of strategic decisions that will position our Company with a strong portfolio of assets. We are well situated both from a strategic and financial perspective to compete and grow our business.

Our assets continue to yield solid financial results and generate substantial amounts of free cash flow and today we confirmed our fiscal 2012 guidance. We expect continued growth in revenue and EBITDA across all of our divisions and due to some strategic investments during the year, it is expected that capital will increase compared to 2011 levels. Considering this and other factors, including higher CRTC benefit obligation, free cash flow for the year is estimated to be approximately $550 million. We just concluded our Board meeting and AGM and we are pleased to announce the 5% dividend increase to an annual rate of $0.97 per share. The higher dividend rate becomes effective at the beginning of Q3 and total dividend payments for fiscal 2012 are expected to be approximately ($415) million.

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