Week ahead: TV and broadband leaves scars

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Telecoms giants BT and British Sky Broadcasting will lock horns again in the battle for broadband and pay-television customers when they update the City on trading this week.

Quarterly figures from BT on Thursday will be pitted against full-year figures from Sky on Friday, with both firms working hard to grow market share in the cut-throat broadband market.

BT recently threw the gauntlet down to Sky when it revealed broadband customers will be able to watch Premier League football for free, after it bought the rights to show 38 top flight games a season. The companies have also waged an increasingly acrimonious war of words over issues ranging from Sky’s refusal to show BT’s sport advertisements, to the prices BT charges rivals to use its network of copper wires.

BT’s results for its first quarter to the end of June are expected to show pre-tax profits dipping to £559 million, from revised profits of £567m a year earlier, on the back of rising costs including heavy spending on its sport launch, tougher regulation in its wholesale business and pension charges.

Sky is expected to show continuing take-up of its subscription products, including strong gains in broadband numbers, which had risen to 4.4 million by the end of March. Most analysts expect Sky to increase pre-tax profits by 9 per cent to £1.25 billion for the year to end June.

Elsewhere, rising demand for Rolls-Royce’s civil aircraft engines is expected to boost the group’s order book when it reports results for the six months to the end of June on Thursday.

Rolls booked orders and agreements worth almost $5bn (£3.3bn) for engines and services with airlines including Philippine Airlines, Air France-KLM and United Airlines at the recent Paris air show. In June, it revealed a $4bn order from Singapore Airlines for engines to power 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Deals such as these are expected to have lifted the group’s order book from the £60bn at the end of 2012. Investec Securities predict higher half-year earnings will send underlying pre-tax profits soaring by 25 per cent to £1.79bn for the full year.

Analysts believe the company could soon boost returns to shareholders through higher dividends as its cash pile swells.