BT Group Rises 5% on "Better Than Expected" Profits


LONDON -- BT Group saw its shares rise 5% this morning to 260.70 pence after releasing its Q3 results, which brought news of better-than-expected profits and that the results were in line with expectations.

Adjusted pre-tax profits in the third quarter lifted 7% year on year to 675 million pounds, while the nine months to Dec. 31, 2012 saw an 8% increase to 1.86 billion pounds.

The rise in share price occurred despite a drop-off in revenue, down 6% compared to the same three-month period in 2011 to 4.51 billion pounds, and dropping 7% year on year in the nine-month period to 13.47 billion pounds.

Management acknowledges that the "tough conditions in Europe and the financial services sector, regulatory price reductions and lower revenue from calls and lines" continue to affect the industry.

However, BT considers "underlying revenue excluding transit" a key measure, and while that was down 3.1%, it was an improvement on recent quarters and, as such, reflected better performances from the BT Global Services -- securing 1.9 billion pounds of new orders, an increase of 17% -- and BT Wholesale divisions.

BT chief executive Ian Livingston commented:

Our fibre plans are helping to make the U.K. a broadband leader in Europe. More than 13 million premises can access our fibre broadband and we are passing around 100,000 additional premises every week. Take-up is growing strongly with around 1.25 million homes and businesses now enjoying the benefits of faster speeds.

Our engineers have worked tirelessly following some of the wettest weather on record. Not only did they complete a record number of field visits in the quarter, they also connected a further 281,000 homes and businesses to broadband and helped us grow the number of landlines.

The company is also challenging BSkyB's dominance of televised sport with a push into the market, having swooped for big-name presenters to front its show already, including Clare Balding and Jake Humphrey from the BBC. BT will broadcast 38 Premier League games a season for three years from August 2013, including 18 "first pick" games, whereby the company will have the option of the weekend's best games.

So, 2013 is set to be an exciting year for the company -- but are these moves into new services going to turn BT into a cash cow? That's what investors will be asking themselves, but with BT currently yielding around 4%, I believe there are better yields available in the FTSE 100.

In fact, how about one that offers a 5.7% income? Its shares might be worth 21% more than their recent price, and it has just been declared "The Motley Fool's Top Income Stock For 2013"... Want to find out more? Well, just click here to download the report -- it's completely free, and will be sent to your inbox immediately!


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