BT’s revenue and EBITDA growth fell in the December quarter, with consumer broadband in particular suffering from weakening volumes and ARPU, as last year’s price rise benefit wanes and broader macro pressures hit.
Openreach, however, had an improved quarter, with the broadband market returning to growth, full fibre build and take-up progressing at or ahead of expectations, and the altnet threat fairly subdued.
Inflationary price rises in April will give a temporary fillip, and likely help drive a decent 2023/24 for Group financials, but it will take much longer for full fibre benefits to really be felt.
Pressure to deliver guidance is suppressing commercial activity which in turn is making guidance more challenging to reach. Although the dividend is well covered for now, the deteriorating cashflow outlook is unhelpful.
The change in strategy to give autonomy to country markets and to be more customer-centric has its merits but is not consistent with many Group initiatives and will take a long time to bear fruit.
Vodafone reiterated its intention to merge with H3G in the UK. Recent setbacks to approval prospects may not be as detrimental as they appear, and there is much to be gained with the potential to increase cashflow four-fold.