* FY EBITDA flat at 6.1 bln stg despite sports investment
* Adjusted profit before tax up 6 percent
* Pledges to raise dividend 10-15 pct this year and next
* Forecasts earnings growth this year and next
* Shares up 2.5 percent
(Adds further detail, shares)
By Kate Holton
LONDON, May 8 Strong demand for fibre broadband
and television helped Britain's BT Group Plc to report
higher-than-expected full-year results and give a bullish
outlook on Thursday, sending its shares up more than 3 percent.
The 168-year-old former state telecoms monopoly said it
would increase its payouts to shareholders and forecast earnings
growth this year and next, signaling it has fully recovered from
two major profit warnings that hit the group in 2008 and 2009.
Since then BT has rebuilt its business by cutting costs and
launching new services such as superfast broadband and sports
"These results provide a strong platform for growth and from
which to achieve our outlook for the years ahead," Chief
Executive Gavin Patterson said.
Shares in the group, which had retreated from a more than
10-year high of 421 pence set in February, were up 3.3 percent
at 389.4p by 0854 GMT.
BT reported full-year revenue, profit and earnings either in
line with or slightly above forecasts, helped by the strong
demand for broadband. It added 170,000 broadband customers in
the quarter, compared with 70,000 added by BSkyB.
It lost 49,000 consumer lines, its lowest level for more
than five years. That helped underpin a 4 percent rise in
full-year revenue at its BT Consumer unit, its first rise in 10
Improvements at its Global Services division, the unit
behind the 2008 and 2009 profit warning that handles the IT
needs of large corporations, have also helped. Earnings at the
division were up 12 percent.
For the group as a whole, core earnings or EBITDA were
steady on the year before at 6.1 billion pounds ($10.4 billion),
despite the heavy investment needed in the sports division, and
adjusted profit before tax was up 6 percent.
It pledged to increase its dividend by between 10 to 15
percent this year and next and said it would extend its share
buyback programme to 2015/16.
"Strong fourth-quarter numbers added to what had already
been an impressive showing from BT, such that there is much
scope for appreciation of the full-year results," Richard
Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers,
The results are likely to validate BT's 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 billion
pound 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.
($1 = 0.5894 British Pounds)
(Editing by Paul Sandle and David Holmes)