Broadband growth boosts BT’s profits

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Strong demand for broadband and tight cost control helped BT offset the combined pressures of regulation and recession to post a better-than-expected seven per cent rise in third-quarter pre-tax profit.

In a continuation of the strategy that has sent shares in the group to a near five-year high, BT said it had recorded profits in the three months to December 31 comfortably ahead of forecasts, off revenues that were down by six per cent.

The group was boosted by 122,000 new broadband customers after it employed more engineers to fix faults on the network and connect more customers following some of the wettest months on record.

The group also became the biggest fibre broadband network in Britain, overtaking Virgin Media, after it passed 13 million homes with the technology. More than a million of its BT Retail customers are now using the faster and more expensive product.

“We have made progress in a number of areas and delivered solid financial results,” said chief executive Ian Livingston. “These are in line with our expectations for the year, which remain unchanged.”

The group posted third quarter adjusted profits of £675m, up seven per cent and compared with a forecast of £632m.

Group revenues, hit by regulation and economic pressures, were down six per cent. BT Global Services, the group’s large division which deals with multi-national corporations, also looked to be performing strongly with £1.9bn worth of new orders.