BT said underlying revenue in its EE mobile business turned to growth “for the first time in EE’s history”, which was attributed to its “more for more” pricing strategy.
The company touted a 2 per cent year-on-year increase in underlying revenue at the mobile business (adjusted for the acquisition) to £1.3 billion during its fiscal Q3, of which £1 billion was attributable to its contract mobile subscribers.
Operating costs stood at £1 billion, resulting in adjusted EBITDA of £277 million. Underlying EBITDA adjusted for the acquisition was down 7 per cent year-on-year, mainly due to the increased cost of investment in the latest range of devices.
At the end of the period, the total BT mobile base (across EE and other brands) remained consistent quarter-on-quarter at 30.2 million, with postpaid additions offset by prepaid churn. Its 4G base was 18.2 million.
BT’s Plusnet value brand launched mobile services during the fiscal Q3, and BT Mobile launched family plans with up to five SIMs on one contract.
In November, the first 700 cell sites using 800MHz spectrum were switched on, which BT said improved geographic and in-building coverage.
It also said it is improving customer experience, in December achieving its goal of having all EE customer calls from centres in the UK and Ireland.
Away from its mobile activities, BT said a 4 per cent year-on-year increase in Consumer revenue to £1.3 billion was driven by an 8 per cent increase in broadband and TV revenue, and 3 per cent increase in calls and lines.
Revenue in the Business and Public Sector segment increased 15 per cent year-on-year to £1.2 billion, boosted by the inclusion of SME and corporate customers acquired with EE. Underlying revenue was down 6 per cent, reflecting public sector declines.
Italian, forecast woes
Gavin Patterson, BT Group CEO, acknowledged in a statement the “good progress we’re making across most of the business has unfortunately been overshadowed by the results of our investigation into our Italian operations and our outlook”.
BT took a hammering from the market earlier this week, when it said its Italian investigation, which included input from KPMG, revealed “improper accounting practices and a complex set of improper sales, purchase, factoring and leasing transactions”. These had a material effect on BT’s results.
The company also said the outlook for UK public sector and international corporate markets deteriorated.
BT’s fiscal Q3 profit was £374 million, half the £766 million booked in the comparable period of 2015, on revenue of £6.13 billion, up 32.4 per cent year-on-year (bolstered by the EE acquisition).