BSkyB posts strong first-quarter earnings
By Kate Holton
LONDON (Reuters) - Pay-TV group BSkyB reported strong first-quarter earnings growth on Thursday as price rises and the sale of additional products to subscribers helped reassure investors who had been fearing a slowdown.
BSkyB, which sells pay-TV, broadband and telephony, has launched an online offering and promoted new products to existing customers after the heady rate of subscriber growth seen in previous years started to drop off.
The solid performance will likely please investors gathering later in London for the group's annual general meeting, where director James Murdoch will make his first public appearance since he stepped down as chairman over a phone hacking scandal at his newspaper group.
Shares in BSkyB were up 3.8 percent in early trading, against an otherwise flat FTSE 100 Index, after they slipped in the run up to the results. The group is now valued at 12.1 billion pounds ($19.49 billion).
"BSkyB's first-quarter numbers were solidly reassuring, with all key metrics showing improvement over Q1 2012," Peel Hunt analyst Patrick Yau said in a note.
"We see this as a robust start to the year for this defensively positioned company. We remain comfortable with our forecasts for now."
In the first three months of its new financial year, BSkyB signed up 48,000 new households, in line with forecasts, with 20,000 additions to the core pay-TV offering.
That is someway off the often 100,000-plus pay-TV subscribers it used to sign up per quarter, but the group said one in three of its customers now took TV, broadband and telephony services, which helped to lift the average amount each customer spent with the group. Continued...