February 1, 2019 / 8:56 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-TalkTalk's customer acquisition costs to hit earnings

(Adds CEO comments, shares)

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - British broadband provider TalkTalk said it would miss full-year earnings expectations due to the cost of acquiring new customers and different accounting standards, sending its shares down by 8 percent on Friday.

The company, which sells broadband on long-term fixed-price plans, said building its subscriber base and switching more customers to superfast fibre would cost it an additional 15 million pounds ($19.7 million) this year.

The additional costs would result in underlying earnings coming in at 245 million to 250 million pounds, below an analysts’ consensus quoted by the company of 259 million pounds.

Chief Executive Tristia Harrison said TalkTalk had nearly reached its 150,000 full-year customer growth target a quarter early and had also had a particularly strong quarter in superfast fibre take-up.

“As we continue to trade in Q4 in a disciplined way there will be some investment in continuing to grow the base and drive fibre take-up,” she said.

Shares in the company fell to 11-month lows after the update, and were trading down 8 percent at 102 pence at 0833 GMT

Harrison, however, said the customer growth momentum and cost savings, including moving its headquarters from London to Salford in northern England, would drive strong earnings growth in its 2020 financial year.

TalkTalk said it added 44,000 customers in the third quarter, taking its base to 4.29 million, while average revenue per user was 24.70 pounds, up quarter-on-quarter but still down from 25.18 pounds a year ago.

$1 = 0.7633 pounds Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by James Davey and Jane Merriman

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