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Shaw Communications Inc. (SJR) Q3 Earnings Call Transcript

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Shaw Communications Inc. (NYSE: SJR)
Q3 2019 Earnings Call
June 27, 2019, 9:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Welcome to Shaw Communications Third Quarter 2019 conference call and webcast. Today's call will be hosted by Mr. Brad Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications.0

At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded. Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session. To join the question queue, simply press * and 1 on your touchtone phone at any time during the call. Should anyone need assistance during the conference call, they may signal an operator by pressing * and zero on their telephone.

Before we begin, management would like to remind listeners that comments made during today's call will include forward-looking information and there are risks that actual results could differ materially. Please refer to the company's publicly filed documents for more details on assumptions and risks.

Mr. Shaw, I would now like to turn the call over to you.

Bradley Shaw -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Operator, and good morning everyone. With me today are members of our senior management team, including Jay Mehr, Trevor English, and Paul McAleese.

Earlier this morning, we released our third quarter operating and financial results for fiscal 2019, reflecting our continued focus on wireline execution and strong growth in our wireless business. While the quarter included a $15 million payment related to IP matters that impacted the reported results, the underlying performance of our business remained solid, and Trevor will walk us through this in more detail.

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In wireless, we had another terrific quarter with total net additions of approximately 62,000 compared to 47,000 a year ago. Included in the result is 61,000 postpaid subscriber additions and record low postpaid churn of 1.18. Clearly, our strategy to grow this customer segment through an improved network experience, the latest devices, and affordable data-centric plans are delivering great results. We also added approximately 800 prepaid customers in the quarter, a significant change in trajectory from the recent quarters due to the success of our new plans launched on April 4.

Eighteen months ago, Freedom Mobile permanently changed the Canadian wireless industry with our Big Gig data plans, which featured large buckets of fast LTE data and no overage charges. In recent weeks, each of the incumbents was finally forced to respond to our success by launching their own more expensive versions of our Big Gig plans. It's now absolutely clear that Canadian wireless prices are coming down and that Freedom Mobile is the catalyst for this change.

For the Big 3, these new rate plans offer a dramatic about-face from expensive data overages that their customers have been paying for years. It's just too bad they haven't gone far enough. If you are a customer of one of the incumbents, chances are you are still struggling with your current data plan and its toxic overage fees. Meanwhile, all Freedom Mobile postpaid customers can use their phones and devices with no limits, just as they have always been able to. We have worked hard to reset Canadians' expectations of their wireless providers and the competition is learning to follow our lead. While the recent pricing moves have attracted a lot of attention, they have yet to have any meaningful impact on our customer acquisition initiatives, and we remain confident that the value of our Big Gig plans continues to resonate with Canadians.

In our wireline business, we added approximately 7,000 broadband customers. This is a significant improvement from a year ago in a seasonally challenging quarter due to student disconnects that happen in May. Our year-to-date broadband net additions reflect a more consistent and improving trend compared to the previous year and is a direct result of our focus on execution.

While it is still early days with our Blue Curve platform, we are pleased with its progress, which has met all of our targets and is a technology that lends itself well to our digital strategy, including a robust self-install experience. During the quarter, self-install increased again to 41% of total consumer activity, and we expect this improving trend to continue.

We also recently launched IPTV in Calgary and expect to roll out this service to additional key markets over the next several months. The main benefits related to the introduction of IPTV include lower success-based capital as well as a lower service delivery cost as video becomes much easier to self-install.

As we launch IPTV in additional markets, our overall video strategy has not changed and remains focused on profitability. During the quarter, we closed two significant transactions that align with our overall connectivity strategy. The acquisition of the 600-megahertz spectrum across our entire wireless footprint was critical for us and will significantly improve our LTE network and enable us to participate in the 5G landscape as it unfolds.

We also completed the sale of our 39% equity stake in Corus on May 31. The sale of the Corus investment is consistent with our strategy that we embarked on over three years ago. This included the divestiture of our media and data center assets and a pivot into wireless. Since that time, we have made significant investments in the wireless network which have materially improved Freedom's quality and customer experience. We continue to believe we have tremendous growth opportunities ahead as we start to bring wireless and wireline together in F20.

Now I'll turn the call over to Trevor to go through the Q3 results in more detail.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thank you Brad, and good morning everyone. The third quarter results that we released this morning include some items that impacted our reported figures and do not accurately reflect the underlying performance of our business.

On a consolidated basis, Q3 revenue of $1.3 billion increased 2.7%, driven by continued growth in our wireless and business divisions. Reported EBITDA decreased 1.5% to $530 million; however, this quarter included a $15 million payment to address certain matters with a large IP licensing company. The comparable period, or Q3 F18 to be more specific, also included a CRTC retroactive roaming benefit of approximately $13 million. Excluding both, the underlying EBITDA performance in the quarter was up almost 4% to $545 million.

In our wireless business, which delivered another solid quarter of subscriber and financial growth, servicing revenue increased 22% to $178 million as we continue to grow our sub base and APU. Wireless equipment revenue declined by approximately 9% year-over-year to $73 million as a larger portion of subscribers in the quarter were BYOD, our churn metrics continued to improve, and our mix of prepaid and postpaid customers is more balanced, consistent with what we disclosed on the last conference call. Wireless EBITDA was $55 million in the quarter, an increase of 38% when adjusting for the $13 million roaming benefit in Q3 F18.

In wireline, Q3 consumer revenue was essentially flat at $925 million compared to the prior year, while business revenue of $150 million increased over 6%. Reported wireline EBITDA of $530 million declined 1.5% year-over-year.

However, when considering the $15 million IP licensing payment, EBITDA actually grew 1% and our wireline margin was in line with previous quarters.

Capital expenditures of $280 million in the quarter was approximately 9% lower than last year with continued reductions in wire line partially offset by increased wireless spending. We expect substantial capital investment for wireless in Q4 as we continue the deployment of the 700 spectrum and launch our wireless network in 10 additional communities by the end of August. We still expect total capex within our wireless business to be approximately $400 million this year.

In the quarter, approximately 350 employees exited as part of our VDP program. On a year-to-date basis, we have achieved $73 million in net operating cost savings and $25 million in net capital cost savings. As we expressed last quarter, the operating savings continue to run slightly ahead of schedule, while capital is a bit behind.

In Q3, we reinvested approximately $5 million of operating costs in a variety of projects related to enabling our VDP program. We are still expecting to reinvest a total of $10 million to $15 million in the second half of fiscal '19 with approximately 60% of this spend recurring. Therefore, Q4 reinvestment will be at least the same as Q3 or likely a bit higher.

As we continue to make our way through the VDP program, there have been some minor shifts compared to our original plan, and we wanted to be as transparent as possible with investors. In fiscal '19, we now expect net operating savings to be approximately $95 million and $40 million in net capital savings for a total of $135 million, which is materially in line with our original plan of $140 million.

Considering our year-to-date results, we are refining our fiscal 2019 guidance, which excludes the $15 million IP licensing payment. We expect EBITDA growth of 6%, a capital investment of approximately $1.2 billion, and free cash flow is expected to be approximately $550 million. As Brad mentioned earlier, we completed the acquisition of 600-megahertz spectrum for $492 million, as well as the sale of Corus shares this quarter that generated approximately $525 million.

Considering both transactions, we continue to have significant balance sheet flexibility and liquidity, with leverage at approximately 1.8 times, and we have significant cash on hand of approximately $1.4 billion to fund the remaining VDP payments, which is around $175 million over the next 12 months, and our $5.65 billion notes that mature in October.

Brad, back to you for closing remarks.

Bradley Shaw -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Trevor. Our year-to-date performance in fiscal 2019 is very much on plan as we continue to grow wireless and broadband. We are making smart investments in our business to streamline operations and transition to a more efficient organization. We are successfully managing through change while delivering net savings to the bottom line.

As we confirmed through our refined guidance, we expect a solid close to fiscal 2019 and look forward to discussing our F20 strategic priorities and targets with you in October.

Thank you, and we'll now turn the call back to the operator for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. To join the question queue, please press * then 1 on your touchtone telephone. You will hear a tone acknowledging your request. If you are using a speakerphone, please ensure you lift the handset before pressing any keys. If you wish to remove yourself from the question queue, you may press * then 2. Anyone who has a question may press * and 1 at this time.

Our first question comes from Vince Valentini of TD Securities.

Vince Valentini -- TD Securities -- Managing Director

Thanks very much. Let me start with the guidance and just make sure we're all on the same page, Trevor. Correct me if I've done my math wrong, but to do 6% without the $15 million IP item this quarter, you need to do about minus-3% EBITDA year-over-year in the fourth quarter. Is there anything else in terms of a one-time in nature that we may have missed from last year or that you expect this year that drives that number to be so negative, or is that just the pacing of these sort of transition costs to VDP that you've been telegraphing?

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Yes, sure Vince. Thanks for the question. I think we've been very transparent with the street that we as a management team are very focused on delivering stable and consistent results, and we're refining that we're at the top end of our guidance, which has been consistent since October when we first released our original guidance. We're delivering VDP net operating savings specific to the program. However, we've got some additional opex in the business as we progress through the year related to higher syndication costs, a bit higher marketing. We've got some higher reinvestments in Q4. I think the street really needs to look at their Q4 wireline EBITDA specifically and look at more considering the run rate over the last three quarters, as opposed to the Q4 F18 results.

I'll just remind you, from a revenue perspective in Q4 F18, if you recall, we had a full quarter benefit of rate adjustments in the quarter which was about $20 million, whereas this year we did have a rate adjustment during the year in April of this year for two months in Q3. However, the rate adjustment wasn't as significant, and I would say that there's a lot more proportion of our customers on contract. So, this annual rate adjustment isn't having as big an effect as it previously did.

So, I think your math is fairly accurate, Vince, but hopefully that gives you enough color in terms of the way that we're thinking about the business quarter over quarter and not necessarily, I think, the street maybe was making some assumptions on the Q4 F18 run rate, which was $516 million of EBITDA last year, and it's going to be tough to--We do expect a negative growth rate off of that number.

Vince Valentini -- TD Securities -- Managing Director

Okay, thanks, Trevor. One more, maybe for Jay, the shift going on in the wireline business. The subscriber numbers other than internet -- I mean, if you look at video and phone and satellite, they were all down somewhat materially versus Q3 last year, but the revenue growth ticked up. Total wireline revenue growth up to 1% year-over-year growth was a little better than half a percent growth you'd been doing in the first two quarters of the year, so the strategy seems to be working. Can you give us any more data points and color on what you're seeing? I mean, obviously the customers you keep seem to have higher ARPU than the customers you're losing, but maybe you can talk about in more detail how you're managing through that process.

Jay Mehr -- President

Yes, for sure. Thank you for the question, Vince. We're pleased with our wireline subscriber results in Q3. The 6,600 internet gains are a nice step forward, and everyone recognizes the usual student disconnects for Shaw in this quarter, and they were around the normal level. The plan is working. Our focus on video profitability is delivering exactly what we wanted it to deliver. Video churn has improved year over year, and so what you're seeing in those results is us being very segmented in terms of adding high-quality video subs.

To be fair, in terms of subscriber numbers the one that was a little disappointing for us was the phone number for the quarter, and quite frankly we had a little pick-up on churn in phone, which is not something that we've seen in previous quarters and not something that we've seen in June. So, we'll put a little bit more focus on that area, but very happy with where the rest of the numbers are. Internet revenue growth continues to be strong, up 6% year-over-year in Q3, and the mix that we're seeing in the business we like a lot.

You'll recall this year, we tried to--I mean, strategy's only strategy when it drives your behavior, and we tried to focus the business entirely on monthly recurring revenue, churn, and growing internet customers. So, it really is account-level MRR and profitability that's driving the consumer activity. I think as you get into F20, you'll see subscriber numbers in some of the other categories rebound a little bit just from the natural adjustment that we've gone through our strategy, but we're excited with where our monthly recurring revenue is headed and like where the consumer wireline business is going.

Vince Valentini -- TD Securities -- Managing Director

Thanks. I'll leave it there. Thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from Drew McReynolds of RBC.

Drew McReynolds -- RBC Capital Markets -- Managing Director

Yes, thanks very much. Maybe I'll shift to you, Paul, on the wireless. Obviously, Brad, in your opening comments, you addressed some of this. I think the big question here is just the playbook from incumbents probably wanting to push you back down market, perhaps in response to the success you're having. Maybe just comment to your value proposition in the marketplace now versus three weeks ago, to the extent you can, and the extent to which you're comfortable with the amount of "oxygen" that you have in order to achieve your wireless growth objectives. Obviously, a big picture question.

Then maybe the opposite for you, Trevor. Can you comment on the cash tax situation for Shaw, just as we look out over the next couple years? Thank you.

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

Hey Drew, it's Paul. Good morning. Yes, I think Brad's comments off the top are worth reiterating on a couple of fronts. Maybe first and foremost, it's nice to take a moment and properly acknowledge the sort of indisputable impact that we're having on wireless affordability in this country. If it wasn't clear before, it certainly is clear now. So, it's nice to see the incumbents coming down and sort of chasing us in that regard.

We've had a couple of years of continued market share gains, and that's really driven off the back of providing Canadian consumers with the value that they've been looking for. The last few weeks, we've watched the incumbents kind of cobble together these expensive and, frankly, fairly poorly architected imitations of our now two-year-old Big Gig plans. So, it's nice to see them kind of having shown up. Through a certain lens, it kind of appears that every new initiative of the Big 3 is designed to just charge customers more. Honestly, it's sort of like the incumbents is where pricing innovation goes to die these days.

We still have millions of Canadians that are going to be attracted to our value proposition because millions of Canadians are still getting charged excess overage fees, up to $100 a gig, and there's still a $1 billion-plus in toxic revenue floating around impacting Canadians' everyday lives. We look at these new unlimited plans from the incumbents, they really require the vast majority of their customers to spend more than they were spending previously in order to make sure that they have the certainty of no punishing fees. Frankly, it's kind of off-putting, and Freedom has long been providing a better alternative and we'll continue to do that.

We are very confident in our current run rate. As Brad said, we've seen no meaningful impact on our growth. So, the oxygen that you refer to is more than adequate for us to continue to achieve our growth objectives, and we're very confident in our position.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

On the tax question, Drew, appreciate it. Clearly, there was a number of tax items in this quarter related to a few events that impact both the cash tax and also our net income effective tax rate. First of all, during the third quarter, we did realize a free cash flow benefit of approximately $20 million related to the resolution of a matter with the CRA regarding the timing of certain tax deductions we took in prior years. When that matter with the CRA was resolved, we reclassified $20 million of tax expense from current to deferred.

In net income this quarter, we did recognize roughly $100 million decrease in our deferred tax liability due to the recent reduction in Alberta tax rates from 12% to 8% being phased in over three years. Frankly, Drew, the impact our F19 current taxes is nominal as the first reduction is effective July 1. Then finally, just to be complete, there was a significant item impacting net income this quarter as the loss related to the Corus sale. However, I would say that that was roughly $100 million, and that's a capital loss, no impact on free cash flow.

Just to help you out from a modeling purpose, Drew, I think we're expecting cash taxes with all the movements this year to be around $165 million, in around that snack bracket. Going forward, I think if you wanted to use an effective tax rate of about 26% from a cash tax perspective, that's probably the right number. Hopefully that helps you.

Drew McReynolds -- RBC Capital Markets -- Managing Director

That does, thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jeff Fan of Scotiabank.

Jeff Fan -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning. Maybe just to follow up on wireless, so questions for Paul to start off with. The ARPU or APU growth, ARPU I guess more specifically, decelerated a little bit this quarter. Wondering how you see that growth going forward and what you think you guys need to do, or what you'd need to see from the industry to see that growth reaccelerate.

Then a question on the IP licensing of $15 million. Can you give us a little bit more color on what this was related to within cable? Was this related to anything to do with the X1 video platform or was it something else? Is this truly one-time, or there could be more related? Just wanted to get a little bit more color there, thanks.

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

Hi Jeff, it's Paul. Yes, on ARPU and APU, we still like our APU growth story. I know our metrics this quarter probably was a little bit behind where consensus was. Bear in mind that this was a quarter in which we did see the need to discount some of our incoming class of subscribers because of a fairly hot competitive environment. I'm still confident that there's a great story on ARPU growth over the course of the next number of quarters.

In terms of accelerating it, some of what we've seen from the incumbents in recent weeks may create an opportunity. They're presuming in their math that they're going to be able to take customers up closer to that $75 price point. So, as we formulate our response over the coming weeks, there may be some opportunity for us to similarly pick up some of that momentum. We still like our story there, it's a positive one. We've still got market-leading growth on APU. I'd say continue to watch this space as we formulate our response.

Jay Mehr -- President

Awesome. Jeff, it's Jay. On the IP licensing deal, I think you can appreciate in our disclosure that these kinds of deals are complex and have confidentiality elements to it. So, I'm sure you can understand the nature of it. To your specific question, this is not a commercial transaction with one of the partner-led, strategic partners that we've identified in the past. So, it's not related to a transaction with Comcast or with Meraki or with Nokia. It's an IP licensing deal and you can see our disclosure on it, and we've got a coverage that we're pleased with. This was my deal. We concluded this deal. We're happy with the outcome. We're happy with what it sets forward for the future and can't really disclose much more than that just because of the nature of the transaction. But it's not related to any of our ongoing partner-led, strategic named partners that we've talked about in the past.

Jeff Fan -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Okay, thanks, guys.

Operator

Our next question comes from Maher Yaghi of Desjardins.

Maher Yaghi -- Desjardins -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to maybe just get your views on how you see margins behaving going forward after most of the VDP savings are behind you now. Beyond, let's say Q4, now we have a pretty good idea where you're sitting, but are there additional margin areas you can work on to get some lift in your business, either wireless or wireline? As you continue to roll out wireless into 2020, can you talk a little bit about your capex plans in general? No need to put out a number if you don't have to, but just trying to figure out your views on 5G deployment and your spectrum position for that.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Sure, Maher. Thanks for the question. It's Trevor, maybe I'll start. There's a lot there. In terms of the wireline margin question, maybe we'll break up the margin question into wireline and wireless. From a wireline perspective, we're really happy with the performance of the business. You can see we're delivering roughly $95 million of VDP savings. We're still on track, like we always said, about $250 million of total VDP savings in F20, and that's sort of a 50/50 split between opex and capex, or maybe it's a little higher, 60/40. We'll update that, but it's in that snack bracket.

We've got some other opportunities on the cost side of things. We talked about the roll-out of IPTV just beginning here in May in Calgary in Brad's remarks. We're rolling out that service throughout the majority of our footprint by the end of this year. We think that supports a very robust self-install experience, so there are some costs from that perspective. We're focused on digital, which again lowers call volumes into our call centers. There're other costs here that we think there are some opportunities to get some more efficiencies.

However, that being said, there are also some other costs within the business that are going up as our partnership that Jay mentioned with some of our key suppliers, like Comcast and others as we're successful with rolling out Blue Curve. There's always an element of variable costs with the success there. We continue to see that the margin within the wireline business, continue to see some opportunity, but clearly, there's been substantial growth this year from previous years and that was probably the easy work behind us. We've got some chopping to do, but we're excited about what we can do.

On the wireless side, I would say this quarter I think was about a 22% margin. I think Paul on the last quarter talked a little bit about where we're clearly generating a little bit more margin from the scale of the operations and we continue to expect that. But I think you're going to see a gradual increase in margins over F20. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it's probably continuing margin expansion from here but not in a significant material manner.

Then on your wireless capex question, I think that was the last one--

Maher Yaghi -- Desjardins -- Analyst

Yes.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Listen, I think the last couple of years or this year we've talked about around $400 million of capex. We continue to think that that's about the approximate number in F20. We'll crisp that up, obviously in October, but we don't see significant increases to the overall amount of wireless capital over the coming years to live into a world of improved LTE service in foundation for 5G as well.

Maher Yaghi -- Desjardins -- Analyst

Great to hear, thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Sidd Dilawari of Cormark Securities.

Siddhant Dilawari -- Cormark Securities -- Analyst

Good morning, guys. I think at this point most of the questions have already been addressed, but just a quick one on wireless for Paul. I think this was the second quarter of declining equipment revenue. How do you see that impacting the APU going forward? And then overall, how do you see this impacting the wireless business overall margin? I think for margins; it should be positive given that you guys do have better margins. So, just looking for some feature or commentary on that.

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

Yes, thank you. You're spot on. We have seen some of the reflection, the kind of moderating of ARPU and APU is related to some inbound success on prepaid, but the larger driver of it is a fairly significant pick-up in BYOD as a percentage of our overall volume in the last couple quarters. That is very much accretive to margins. So, we're pleased with that. We also love that it sets up, as we move into the autumn, where the initial cohort of iPhone 8 and iPhone X subscribers on competitive networks start to roll off their two-year financing plans. We really like what that's doing for us. You're absolutely right to pick that up.

That does, of course, have a negative impact on equipment revenue but given that that's a generally no to negative margin line for us anyways, that's something we're not overly concerned about. We like where that's heading, and we'll continue to press on that opportunity as it presents itself.

Siddhant Dilawari -- Cormark Securities -- Analyst

Okay. Just another quick one on 5G roll-out. Is there any plan on acquiring high band spectrum, or we're good with where we are with the low band acquisitions we've made recently?

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

I'm sorry, you just blipped on--acquire what spectrum?

Siddhant Dilawari -- Cormark Securities -- Analyst

Sorry-high band spectrum.

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

Yes, we're just following the road map that ISED and the CRTC are putting in place for the spectrum auctions. We're not commenting further beyond the 3.5.

Siddhant Dilawari -- Cormark Securities -- Analyst

Okay, thanks. That's everything for me.

Operator

Once again, if you have a question, please press star then one. Our next question comes from Adam Ilkowitz of Citi.

Adam Ilkowitz -- Citi -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning. I wanted to dig into free cash flow for a moment, the $176 million in the quarter and the raised guidance for the year. There seemed to be a pretty big property sale during the quarter which helped the quarter, as well as the $20 million tax item that you had mentioned in the Q&A. Can you explain to us how investors should think about the about $550 million and how it's impacted by any one-timers that may not be recurring? Thanks.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks. On the tax piece of it, I think I answered it earlier, we did realize about $20 million related to a resolution of a matter with the CRA. However, I would say that we had previously incurred higher cash taxes due to that. So, I think it is sort of a true-up in timing, and I wouldn't call that one time. I would say it's more about timing. On the sale of the building, I guess that it netted off. It's within our overall capital budget, which still remains at $1.2 million. I wouldn't say that we were trying to treat the sale of the building that impacts free cash flow. Again, I know it's a little messy on the cash taxes, it looks a little light this year, and it's because of that $20 million.

Adam Ilkowitz -- Citi -- Analyst

I guess the sale of the building during the quarter, was that included in your previous $500 million free cash flow guidance?

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

No, it was never part of free cash flow.

Adam Ilkowitz -- Citi -- Analyst

Okay, I can probably take that offline. My second question is on the wireline side. I'm kind of intrigued as to the margins, which have been roughly stable. With the amount of people coming off from the VDP program, can you talk about besides that what may be causing margins to be perhaps negatively impacted that would leave them flat, rather than seeing an upward trajectory to margins? Thank you.

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Yes, we talked about it a little bit, Adam. We do have some other costs within the business that ticked up, and they're not just costs related to the VDP enablement program. There are regular merit increases in the business for the employees. There're the syndication costs that are becoming a more important line item or a bigger line item within the business considering our partner-led solutions. So, there are a few other costs that have increased obviously to offset some of the VDP savings. But clearly, we're very happy with the way the VDP program is going and we're realizing the savings. The headcount is staying out of the business, but there are just some other costs within that have ticked up just a little bit, network programming costs, things like that.

Jay Mehr -- President

You can see that already. It's Jay, Adam. We're quite confident in the direction of wireline profitability in our strategy. We're quite confident in the free cash flow profile of our company and where we're headed in subsequent years. But the work that the team has done on VDP and the entire transformation has been extraordinary. This quarter alone, we have truck rolled down 30% year-over-year. This is a good start to a modern Shaw. All of our fundamentals are in place and while coaches take losses and teams take wins, VDP and the work to transform our wireline business is working and the team is doing extraordinary. So, we're excited about the future.

I understand the math you're doing. The free cash flow characteristics and the characteristics of the wireline business going forward, it's something we're very excited about.

Adam Ilkowitz -- Citi -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Operator

Mr. Shaw, there are no more questions at this time. This concludes the time allocated to today's conference call. You may disconnect your lines. Thanks for participating and have a pleasant day.

Duration: 36 minutes

Call participants:

Bradley Shaw -- Chief Executive Officer

Jay Mehr -- President

Paul McAleese -- President of Wireless

Trevor English -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Vince Valentini -- TD Securities -- Managing Director

Drew McReynolds -- RBC Capital Markets -- Managing Director

Jeff Fan -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Maher Yaghi -- Desjardins -- Analyst

Siddhant Dilawari -- Cormark Securities -- Analyst

Adam Ilkowitz -- Citi -- Analyst

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