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Telus Corporation: Is This Canada’s Safest Dividend Pick?

Telus Corporation (TSX:T)(NYSE:TU) has been a model of stability during the recent rout in equity markets. Here’s why the stock is so reliable during difficult times.

Customers come first

Telus has a company-wide commitment to ensure its customers get the best possible service in the industry.

I know, you are probably rolling your eyes, thinking you’ve heard this before, and every telecom company claims to care about their customers. This might be true, but Telus actually delivers on its customer-first strategy and the results are turning up in the numbers.

The company has the lowest mobile churn rate in the sector, and this means Telus has to spend less money than its competitors to win new customers. With an average industry acquisition cost of more than $400 per user, the costs can add up very quickly.

Happy customers also appear to spend more. The company’s second quarter blended average revenue per user increased by 2.9% to $63.48, the 19th consecutive year-over-year quarterly increase for the metric.

Wireless strength

Telus delivered Q2 wireless network revenues of $1.57 billion, a 6.1% increase over the same period last year. The growth was primarily driven by an 18% rise in data revenue.

The company continues to expand its LTE network coverage, and more customers are upgrading to high-end smartphones as well as other data-centric devices. High-value, postpaid subscribers now represent 86.5% of the company’s total wireless subscriber base.

Wireline growth

Telus has a wireline business that is the envy of its peers. The company’s Telus TV and broadband Internet services added 17,000 and 22,000 respective net new subscribers during the second quarter as customers defected from competitors.

The company has an advantage over other providers because it can package its digital offerings with the installation of its state-of-the-art fibre lines being run right to a customer’s house.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that Telus doesn’t have a media division. This means it can plough all of its money into network expansion and customer service initiatives.

When pick and pay rolls out next year, Telus will be able to negotiate deals with all of the content producers and put together packages that are attractive to its clients. The competitors with media operations would prefer to use their content as bait for attracting new customers, but Telus has nearly 14 million total customer connections, and the content producers can’t afford to lose out on that revenue stream.

Telus also has a growing healthcare division called Telus Health. The business is already Canada’s largest digital solutions provider to the healthcare industry, and this unit should become more important in the revenue mix as it expands.

Dividend growth and share buybacks

Telus has increased its dividend 11 times in the past five years and investors should see the trend continue. The company pays a distribution of $1.68 per share that yields a reliable 3.9%.

Share buybacks are just as important for investors as cash payouts and Telus is one of the county’s top firms in this respect. In Q2 2015 Telus repurchased 7.9 million shares and has spent $4.7 billion on the program since 2004.

Should you buy Telus?

If you are looking for a rock-solid dividend from a company that has limited competition and is insulated from global turmoil, Telus is about as good as it gets.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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