BT holds the line in fiscal Q4, doubles fiber customer base to 1.5 million

BT's (NYSE: BT) flat key revenue measure and fiscal fourth quarter revenues of just £4.8 million ($7.32 million), down 2 percent, didn't dampen spirits at the telco, which noted that its fiber customer base doubled to more than 1.5 million subscribers.

The telco also saw adjusted earnings per share climb 22 percent in Q4, to 8.3 pence ($1.26).

Europe's muddled economy, combined with regulator-mandated price reductions and typical wireline voice losses, contributed to a 5 percent loss in overall adjusted revenues for BT's fiscal year ending March 31, to £18.25 million ($27.82 million).

However, the carrier noted strong performances from its Retail, Wholesale  and Openreach divisions. Although consumer revenue in Retail was flat at £1.86 million ($2.84 million), this was its best performance in five years, the earnings release noted. Underlying Wholesale revenue, when transit was excluded, was up 2 percent for the quarter. And Openreach, which was impacted by regulatory price changes and a shaky European economy, nevertheless saw fiber broadband and Ethernet stem overall revenue losses, keeping them at 3 percent for the quarter and 1 percent for the year.

The telco stayed in line with its forecast, bringing down labor costs by 4 percent. Operating costs and capex were reduced by £4.7 billion ($7.16 billion) over the past four years.

Ian Livingston, BT's chief executive, kept the focus on the telco's commitment to the future, noting its ongoing fiber buildouts and investments in growing market segments, among other things.

"We are doing what we said we would do. In an environment where it is easier to focus only on the short-term, we are investing in our future and delivering growth in profits and dividends," Livingston said in the earnings release. He added that the company saw a 14 percent dividend this year.

Broadband was a shining point in BT's earnings report. More than half of UK homes can now connect to fiber, the release said. The telco has passed more than 15 million premises with fiber, an increase of 6.2 million for the year. It doubled the number of actual connections to 873,000, bringing the total number of connected homes and businesses to 1.5 million.

BT's total broadband connections for the year rose to 17.6 million, provided through more than 150 service providers.

Looking forward, the telecom forecasts a slight decline in adjusted EBITDA to £6.0 to £6.1 billion ($9.15 to $9.3 billion) for the year. However, it expects higher levels of normalized free cash flow, at about £2.3 billion ($3.5 billion), as it enters the next phase of its restructuring in which it plans to reduce costs by £200 million ($304.9 million) over the next two years.

For more:
- see the earnings release

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