British telecoms group BT says annual profits soar by 50%

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British telecoms group BT said Thursday that annual net profits surged by nearly 50 percent, lifted by massive cost-cutting, lower taxes and and keen demand for broadband Internet services.

Earnings after taxation jumped to £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion, 1.7 billion euros) in the group's financial year to the end of March. That compared with £1.028 billion in 2009/2010.

Sales however slipped by nearly four percent to £20.1 billion, which was roughly in line with the group's guidance.

But operating costs tumbled by £1.15 billion pounds, or six percent, to £17.542 billion.

BT added that net profits more than doubled to £472 million in the fourth quarter, or three months to March, despite a 5.6-percent drop in revenues to £5.1 billion.

"We have delivered profits and free cash flow ahead of expectations for the year, while making significant investment in the business for the future," said BT chief executive Ian Livingston.

"We have consolidated our position as the leading provider of broadband in the UK."

Looking ahead, he added: "We expect to continue to grow our profits and free cash flow whilst investing to return BT to growth.

"These results show we are making progress, but we are well aware there remains a lot more to do."

© 2011 AFP

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