Business Irish

Friday 22 September 2017

Demand for broadband lifts BT full-year results

BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey
BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey

Strong demand for fibre broadband and television helped Britain's BT to report its first growth in consumer revenues in a decade and strong overall full-year results.

The 168-year-old former state telecoms monopoly, which has recovered from two major profit warnings in 2008 and 2009 by launching superfast broadband and a new TV sports service, said it would extend its share buyback programme and increase its forecast for free cash flow.

"These results provide a strong platform for growth and from which to achieve our outlook for the years ahead," Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said.

BT reported full-year revenue, profit and earnings either in line with or slightly above forecasts, helped by the strong demand for broadband. That helped underpin a 4 percent rise in BT Consumer full-year revenue, its first rise in 10 years.

Improvements at its Global Services division, the unit behind the 2008 and 2009 profit warning that handles the IT needs of multi-national corporations, have also helped. Earnings at the division were up 12 percent.

For the total group, earnings were flat on the year before at 6.1 billion pounds ($10.35 billion), despite the heavy investment needed in the sports division, and adjusted profit before tax was up 6 percent.

The annual results are likely to validate BT's recent strategy of cutting millions of pounds in costs to enable the country's biggest fixed-line telecoms group to invest in a more than £3 bn roll-out of a fibre network.

With the provision of superfast broadband increasing the range of services BT could deliver into a home, the company then moved into sports TV, stunning the sporting world in 2012 when it snapped up a package of English soccer Premier League rights.

Less than 18 months later it won the auction to show all European Champions League matches, proving itself an able challenger to Rupert Murdoch's dominant pay-TV provider BSkyB and underlining its willingness to invest in new services to protect its core telephony and broadband business.

Reuters

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