1. Wireless strength
Telus has 8.4 million wireless subscribers and continues to add new customers at the expense of its rivals. For the first six months of 2015 wireless EBITDA grew 4.6% compared with the same period last year, and the company’s average revenue per unit (ARPU) rose to $62.91, a 3% increase. The division brings in more than 50% of the company’s revenue.
Telus realizes it needs to invest to stay ahead of its peers. The company’s wireless group spent $475 million on capital projects in the first two quarters of this year, a 21% increase over 2014. This is important for investors because it shows that management is using the company’s money wisely.
2. Customer-first focus
Mobile customers are a lucrative group and Telus knows that customer service is key to building long-term relationships with its clients. As a result of its investments to ensure clients are treated properly, Telus boasts the lowest churn rate in the industry. That translates into lower acquisition costs and higher ARPU as loyal customers upgrade their devices and use more data.
3. Wireline growth
Telus is also delivering solid results on the wireline operations as its popular Telus TV and broadband Internet services benefit from a shift away from cable.
Total TV subscribers jumped 10.3% in the first half of this year, and the number of high-speed Internet customers jumped more than 6%.
The area investors should watch carefully is the little-known Telus Health division. The company is Canada’s largest supplier of data-management solutions for Canadian doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies.
Telus has a strong history of dividend growth. The company has raised the payout 11 times in the past five years and the trend should continue as revenues and free cash flow continue to grow.
The current distribution of $1.68 per share yields a solid 3.8%. Telus has a payout ratio of 72%, so investors should feel very comfortable with the safety of the dividend.
5. Share buybacks
Dividends are important for investors, but share repurchases are just as attractive. Every time a company buys back and cancels stock, the remaining shareholders get a bigger piece of the pie.
Telus spent $324 million to buy back 7.9 million shares in the first half of 2015 and has spent $4.7 billion on share repurchases since 2004.
6. Recession resistant
The Canadian economy is working its way through a rough patch, and some pundits think there is more pain to come. When times get tight people will scale back spending on discretionary items like expensive coffees and dinners at restaurants.
Phone and Internet expenses are not discretionary, and most people throw their TV subscription into that category as well.
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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.