BCE announces 2021 financial targets, 5.1% dividend increase and capital investment acceleration of at least $1 billion to advance fibre and wireless network expansion over the next 2 years.
Net earnings in Q4 increased 28.9% to $932 million and net earnings attributable to
common shareholders totalled $889 million, or $0.98 per share, up 32.3% and 32.4%
respectively. Higher net earnings and net earnings per common share reflected the gain realized on the sale of Bell data centres to Equinix in Q4 2020, lower year-over-year noncash media asset impairment charges and decreased income taxes. This was partly offset by lower adjusted EBITDA, increased depreciation and amortization expense, higher severance, acquisition and other costs, and higher other expense. For full-year 2020, net earnings decreased 17.0% to $2,699 million, and net earnings attributable to common shareholders were $2,498 million, or $2.76 per share, down 17.8% and 18.1% respectively.
Adjusted net earnings in Q4 were $731 million, or $0.81 per common share, down 6.8% and 5.8% respectively, compared to $784 million, or $0.86 per common share, in Q4 2019. The decreases reflected lower adjusted EBITDA, higher depreciation and amortization expense and higher other expense due to the pick-up of equity losses from our minority interest investments. For full-year 2020, adjusted net earnings were $2,730 million compared to $3,119 million in 2019, and adjusted EPS was down 12.7% to $3.02.
Adjusted EBITDA decreased 3.2% to $2,404 million in Q4, reflecting declines of 3.0% in wireless, 2.7% in wireline and 7.8% in media. BCE’s consolidated adjusted EBITDA margin decreased 0.2 percentage points to 39.4%, due to the flow-through of lower year-over-year revenue, partly offset by a 2.5% improvement in operating costs. For full-year 2020, adjusted EBITDA was down 4.0% to $9,607 million, while BCE’s adjusted EBITDA margin was essentially unchanged at 42.0% compared to 42.1% in 2019.