Top picks 2013: BCE Inc.
Conservative income investors should ring up this Canadian telecom company.
BCE Inc. (BCE) is Canada's largest telecommunications company and the owner of Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, and Bell Media, which in turn owns 28 conventional TV stations including CTV, 29 specialty channels, more than 30 radio stations, and other media assets.
This is an ideal stock for conservative investors. It is a large, stable company that pays an excellent dividend and has long-term growth potential.
Ever since the bid to privatize BCE failed in December 2008, management has been aggressively working to rebuild investor confidence.
As part of that process, the dividend has been increased seven times in less than four years, the latest at the start of 2012.
In total, those hikes add up to a 48.6% increase in the payout, which has contributed to driving up the share price.
BCE reported a year-over-year third-quarter profit decline, mainly due to a favorable tax break in 2011. The company announced adjusted quarterly profits of $588 million ($0.76 per share) compared to $724 million ($0.93 a share) last year (figures in Canadian dollars).
However, top-line revenue increased by 1.5% to just under $5 billion thanks to strong growth from Bell Wireless (7.1%) and Bell Media (25.5%).
Quarterly dividends are paid on the 15th of January, April, July, and October. The current rate is $0.5675 per share ($2.27 annually). That works out to a yield of 5.3% based on the Dec. 28 price of C$42.56, US$42.72.
To sum up, BCE is an ideal stock for conservative income investors, offering both stability and a good return.
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Investors are anxious to see if hiring can maintain its strong pace in the second half of the year.
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