Eyes Down for BT's Results

LONDON -- BT Group (LSE: BTA.L  ) (NYSE: BT  ) is due to announce its interim results on Thursday next week.

Shares in Britain's leading fixed-line telecom company have outperformed the FTSE 100 over the past year, having risen 18% compared with a 5% rise for the index. However, in the one-month run up to the results, the shares have gone off the boil, dropping 7% versus a modest 1% decline for the Footsie.

How will BT's businesses have performed in the first half compared with last year's first half? And is the group on track to meet analysts' forecasts for this year's key full-year numbers? Here's your cut-out-and-fill-in table!

 

H1 2012

FY 2012

H1 2013

FY 2013 (forecast)

Forecast FY Growth

Revenue (billions of pounds)

9.25

18.90

--

18.45

(2.4%)

Operating Margin

14.1%

15.4%

--

13.8%

 --

Pre-Tax Profit (billions of pounds)

1.07

2.45

--

2.55

4.3%

Adjusted EPS (pence)

10.8

23.7

--

24.9

5.1%

Dividend per Share (pence)

2.6

8.3

--

9.44

13.7%

Source: Digital Look; company reports.

Earnings and dividends
In its results for the first quarter to June 30, BT reported adjusted EPS of 5.7 pence -- up 10% on last year's Q1 and its 11th consecutive quarter of double-digit EPS growth. However, if the analysts' consensus for full-year EPS growth of 5.1% is on the button, BT's earnings growth would moderate to less than 4% for the rest of the year. Adjusted EPS of about 11.5 pence for the first half would put the company on course to meet analysts' full-year expectations; anything less, and the market is likely to be disappointed.

More optimistically, if BT has maintained its Q1 earnings growth in Q2, look out for first-half adjusted EPS of around 11.9 pence, which could lead to earnings upgrades for the full year.

You may be surprised to see that analysts are forecasting dividend growth well-ahead of earnings growth, but BT stated in its last full-year announcement, "As a result of our confidence in our ability to grow free cash flow, we intend to increase our dividend by 10%-15% for the next three years." So look out for an interim dividend of between 2.8 pence and 3 pence.

Global services
BT has four lines of business: retail, global services, wholesale, and "Openreach." The performance of global services, which provides managed networked IT services to large corporate and public-sector customers, is worth keeping a particular eye on. In its FY 2012 final results, BT told us it expected global services to deliver solid EBITDA growth in FY 2013. However, Global Services' performance was disappointing in Q1, the business being "affected by the tough conditions in Europe and the financial services sector."

The table below shows the revenue and EBITDA performance for the last five quarters.

 

Q1 2012

Q2 2012

Q3 2012

Q4 2012

Q1 2013

Revenue (millions of pounds)

1,905

2,014

1,894

1,996

1,730

EBITDA (millions of pounds)

138

159

144

186

119

This year's Q1 revenue was down 9% on the same period last year, while EBITDA was down 14%. Global services will have some way to go in Q2 -- particularly with tougher comparatives -- to get back on track to deliver the solid EBITDA growth management was expecting. In September, BT announced it was appointing a new head of global services from Oct. 1, although, of course, whatever stamp he makes on the division will not be seen for a while yet.

A million and one
BT is one of the most widely held U.K. shares, with a million-strong army of small investors. The company is also a favorite of top City investor Neil Woodford, the man whose funds have beaten the wider market by more than 300% in the last 15 years. If you're interested in discovering Woodford's other big blue-chip bets and gaining a valuable insight into his enormously successful approach to investing, I recommend you download the exclusive free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor." The report is available for a limited time only, so download it right now by simply clicking here.

"10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the very latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the free report today -- it may transform your wealth.

Further investment opportunities:

G A Chester does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.


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