By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Canada's biggest wireless company said on Thursday that he is seeing little demand for Apple Inc's (:AAPL.O) iPhone 8, adding to concerns about prospects for sales of the device.
"What we're seeing is sort of ... anemic appetite for the iPhone 8," Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO) Chief Executive Joe Natale said in an quarterly earnings conference call.
Customers are interested in premium features packed into the iPhone X, which Natale pronounced "ten", which is due to be released next month, though he also warned the outlook for that device is not clear because of its higher price and potential supply constraints.
"The iPhone 10 price point is about 75 percent higher than the iPhone 7. So it's a very expensive device," he said. "Inventory is a question mark in terms of what we will get."
Apple shares were down 2.4 percent as brokers and traders speculated about demand for the iPhone 8.
Shares in Rogers fell 1 percent to C$66.16 in late morning trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after a roughly 6 percent gain in the weeks heading into its earnings, as weakness in its cable unit offset an otherwise robust wireless performance.
Its overall earnings were just above analyst expectations on lower-than-expected revenue.
"There's a little more concern on the cable side of the business, with light internet subscriber additions and worse-than-expected TV losses," said Edward Jones analyst Dave Heger, noting that Rogers may have lost out on adding more subscribers by deciding not to match promotions offered by its rival BCE Inc (Toronto:BCE.TO - News).
The company added 27,000 landline internet and 1,000 landline phone accounts, but lost 18,000 television subscribers.
Five analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected 35,000 internet additions, with the number a particular focus given BCE is spending heavily to build out a more advanced fixed-line network.
Rogers added 129,000 net postpaid wireless subscribers in the quarter, the largest jump in such high-value customers in eight years and more than the 113,000 average of analyst expectations.
Rogers said it expects annual adjusted operating profit growth of between 5 percent and 6 percent, up from a 2 percent to 4 percent range it gave in January.
It kept its quarterly dividend steady at 48 Canadian cents, where it has been for more than two years, saying it would increase capital spending on networks.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto, additional reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Jim Finkle and Meredith Mazzilli)