Market Report: BT revenues up thanks to sports fans


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The Independent Online

Sports fans have helped the telecoms giant BT to post a strong quarter and it scored a position at the top of the Footsie.

Its BT Sport channel has won over 2.5 million fans and its broadband internet division has added 150,000 customers in the past three months. Sales were 2 per cent higher at £4.6bn for the third quarter.

The City was relieved with the figures as BT claimed it had won 60 per cent of all new broadband customers. Analysts at Jefferies said the strong results were evidence that the UK market was polarising. BT shares rose 12.4p, or 3.34 per cent, to close at 383.3p last night.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index has fallen more than 3 per cent this year because traders cannot shake their fears about emerging markets. Weak German retail sales added to the sentiment and the Footsie fell 28.01 points to 6,510.44.

Bottling group Coca Cola HBC was one of the stocks suffering from emerging market concerns and lost 54p to 1,613p.

The Louis Vuitton owner LVMH reported better-than-expected sales growth for its fashion brands in the fourth quarter after the markets closed on Thursday. Rival high-end fashion group Burberry ticked up 37p to 1,448p in London in response.

LVMH said cognac sales in China were expected to be “positive” in the first quarter in contrast to the more downbeat spirits giant Diageo which said yesterday that emerging market growth was challenging. Diageo slipped another 19.5p to 1,800.5p.

Imperial Tobacco was one of the top risers after a “buy” note from Goldman Sachs. The target price was raised to 2,840p and its shares advanced 41p to 2,223p. Goldman still likes rival British American Tobacco but not as much as Imps –and it cut its target price to 3,420p. BAT shares were 26.5p better at 2,916p.

The gaming group Rank reported a 23 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £27.7m for the half year to January. Its shares duly lost 2.8p to close at 138.8p.

Cairn Energy tried to reassure investors about a tax inquiry in India but it fell a further 1.3p to 215.6p.

Internet naming business Top Level Domain Holdings raised £21m and advanced 2p to 14.75p.