The week ahead: BT and BSkyB set for the spotlight

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OIL giant Shell and media firms BT and BSkyB take centre­-stage this week in the calendar of company results.

BSkyB’s quarterly figures on Thursday are likely to show that its drive for high definition (HD) customers slowed after a summer boom fuelled by the Olympics.

Numis predicts the group, which now has more than ten million customers, will have won 115,000 new HD contracts in the quarter to 31 December, against 125,000 in the previous quarter.

Prices hikes, including a rise of £1 for its Sky Sports package and £1.50 for its Sky Entertainment package, will have grown revenues.

Numis expects the move to have pushed Sky’s revenues up 4.2 per cent in Q2 and predicts the group will post first half revenues of £3.5 billion – up from 3.5 per cent sales growth in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, BT is expected to show continued progress in its march for a bigger share of the broadband market when it reports third quarter figures on Friday.

BT added 81,000 retail broadband customers, nearly half of net additions across the market, in the previous quarter to 30 September.

BT is investing £2.5bn on rolling out superfast broadband to two-thirds of the UK by the end of spring 2014.

But this will not stop revenues declining further as its global services business battles the economic woes in southern Europe.

City experts predict revenues will have fallen 6.1 per cent to £4.5bn in Q3, compared with a 5 per cent fall in the same period last year.

Diageo, Scotland’s largest distiller, will toast another strong performance in emerging markets when it reports to the City on Thursday.

Analysts predict sales will have grown 5.2 per cent to £6bn in its first-half results. It comes after a year when Diageo went on a spree of acquisitions in emerging markets, most recently taking a 53.4 per cent stake in Asian drinks giant United Spirit.

But the group ended talks to buy the Jose Cuervo tequila brand from Mexico’s Beckmann family last month and a decade-long agreement to distribute the spirit in the US.

The continued strength of Brent crude in commodity markets is expected to narrow recent falls in profits at Shell on Thursday. Experts predict fourth quarter profits will be 3 per cent lower at $6.3bn (£4bn).