Cogeco working to restore reputation for service with system troubles fixed: CEO - InfoNews

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Cogeco working to restore reputation for service with system troubles fixed: CEO

A Cogeco sign hangs at the company's annual general meeting in Montreal, Tuesday, January 14, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
April 10, 2019 - 1:34 PM

MONTREAL - Cogeco management is working to restore the cable and internet company's reputation following months of problems it experienced while a new customer management system was installed in Ontario and Quebec.

Chief executive Philippe Jette acknowledged Wednesday that the problems resulted in a spike in complaints to the industry's ombudsman and customers switching to competitors during the first half of Cogeco's 2019 financial year.

"My expectation is that some of these customers that went and tried other solutions for a short term will return," Jette said in a conference call with analysts.

"And I admit we went through a difficult period. But that period is completely over."

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services reported last week that Cogeco had the third highest number of complaints between Aug. 1, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019. A year earlier, Cogeco Ontario was 13th on the complaints list and Cogeco Quebec was ranked 26th.

"The period covered by the report is exactly when we had some issues with the CMS migration. Now that we've fixed these issues, we expect our numbers to come back where they were," Jette said Wednesday.

The problems also coincided with a voluntary worker departure program focused on support functions.

Jette's comments followed the release of Cogeco's second-quarter results after markets closed on Tuesday.

The company reported that the 4,614 internet subscribers added in this year's first and second quarters, ended Feb. 28, was essentially cut in half compared with 9,356 in the same period last year.

It also lost nearly 9,650 video service customers over the six-month period, including 5,093 in the second quarter, compared with a loss of only 2,695 in the first six months of fiscal 2018.

Cogeco Communications operates cable systems in parts of Ontario, Quebec and the United States while its parent, Cogeco Inc., also has a media arm that's primarily focused on French-language radio stations in Quebec.

Cogeco Inc.'s net income attributable to shareholders was $25.7 million or $1.57 per diluted share for the second quarter ended Feb. 28.

That was down from $2.82 per share or $46.6 million a year in last year's second quarter, when Cogeco benefited from U.S. tax reform.

Cogeco Inc.'s revenue rose to $608.6 million in this year's second quarter, from $554.1 million last year.

Revenue at Cogeco Communications Inc., a publicly traded subsidiary of Cogeco Inc. that reports separately, was $584.1 million while profit attributable to its owners was $76.3 million or $1.53 per share.

Cogeco Inc. stock closed up 8.6 per cent at $83.66, the highest close in more than a year. Cogeco Communications shares closed up 6.4 per cent at $91.57, also the highest close in more than a year.

— by David Paddon in Toronto.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CGO, TSX:CCA)

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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