BT Shares Hit 5-Year High after Profits Beat Forecast with Tighter Cost Controls

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By Martin Baccardax | February 1, 2013 6:27 PM EST

BT Group shares rose sharply in London after the group posted better than expected profits, as tighter spending controls and solid broadband demand helped boost the bottom line for Britain's biggest fixed-line telecom company.

Profit before taxes for the three months ending in December, the company's fiscal third quarter, rose 7 percent to £675m ($1.07bn/€785m), BT said in a statement published on its website, from £632m over the same period last year. The contrast in revenues, which fell 6 percent to £4.5bn, suggests BT was able to deliver the stronger earnings through stricter cost controls. Operating costs fell 8 percent, BT said, to £3.069bn.

"Our fibre plans are helping to make the UK a broadband leader in Europe," said CEO Ian Livingston in the statement. "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."

BT Group shares rose more than 6.5 percent, or 16.2 pence, to close at 264.8 pence each in London - the highest level in more than five years.

BT also added 122,000 new broadband customers over the three month period, the company said, and held onto its full-year profit forecast.

"Our pre-season training is going well," said Livingston, referring to the company's push into sports broadcasting. "We have secured attractive new content and world-class production facilities at the Olympic Park and are building a strong team."

BT outbid rivals British Sky Broadcasting and Disney's ESPN last September for the rights to show top English rugby, after it paid £152m to the Aviva Premiership to show 69 matches over four years. BT also has broadcasting rights for Premiership football and will begin broadcasting games for the 2013 season. BT paid around £246m for the rights to 38 matches. 

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