BT Group pivoting towards consistent and predictable growth

BT Group plc

BT Group plc (LON:BT.A) has announced its financial results for the full year to 31 March 2021.

Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, commenting on the results, said “BT comes out of this challenging year as a stronger business with an even greater sense of purpose. Our fantastic colleagues have shown the true colours of BT – delivering resilient connectivity, supporting families and businesses and helping to underpin the heroism of the NHS.A number of uncertainties have now been removed. The Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review, 5G spectrum auction and the Government’s tax super-deduction give us the green light to build the UK’s next generation digital infrastructure even faster; today we are increasing and accelerating our FTTP target from 20m to 25m homes and businesses by December 2026 to deliver further value to our shareholders and support the Government’s full fibre ambitions. The conclusion of our triennial pension valuation today provides further clarity for shareholders.After a number of years of tough work, and as we look to build back better from the pandemic, we’re now pivoting to consistent and predictable growth. We are building a better BT for our customers, for the country, for our shareholders and for those who work for this great company – now and in the future.”

Key strategic developments:

•   Ofcom’s WFTMR1, outcome of recent spectrum auction and Government’s tax super-deduction allows us to increase and accelerate our FTTP build from 20m to 25m premises by December 2026; BT to explore potential joint venture for additional 5m build – see separate press release

•   Agreed triennial pension deficit of £7.98bn and deficit recovery plan comprising: asset-backed funding over 13 years (£180m p.a.) secured against the EE business; and further payments over 10 years (£900m p.a. reducing to £600m p.a. from 1 July 2024) – see separate press release

•   Secured 80MHz of 5G spectrum for a total of £475m in Ofcom’s auction allowing us to build on our position as the UK’s number one 5G network

•   Significant UK cash tax benefit in 2021/22 and 2022/23, as a large proportion of our capital expenditure is expected to qualify for the proposed 130% tax super-deduction

Strong operational performance during the Covid-19 pandemic:

•   Strong network performance; BT’s broadband networks seamlessly managed a doubling of daytime traffic due to more people being at home during the day; 42% increase in EE mobile data usage over the last 12 months

•   Group NPS2 increased by 7.8 points compared to the prior year baseline, a 19th successive quarter of growth

•   Openreach achieved 2.0m in year FTTP build with record build levels in Q4; increased FTTP connections by 73% to 905k over the last 12 months

•   5G footprint doubled to 160 locations and 5G ready customer base now over 3.2m; EE named the Fastest Mobile Network by Uswitch in February 2021

•   Tracking ahead on our modernisation plans; delivered gross annualised savings of £764m within the first year of our three-year modernisation programme with an associated cost of £438m

Financials delivered in line with guidance primarily impacted by Covid-19:

•   Revenue £21,331m, down 7%, primarily due to the impact of Covid-19 on Consumer and our enterprise units, ongoing legacy product declines and divestments, partly offset by higher equipment revenue and Openreach bases in fibre and Ethernet; adjusted2 revenue down 6% in line with expectation

•   Adjusted2 EBITDA £7,415m, down 6% as expected, primarily due to the fall in revenue, special frontline bonus, increased service costs and continued investment in copper-to-fibre migrations and our FTTP base, partly offset by sports rights rebates and cost savings including our modernisation programme, tight cost control, and Covid-19 mitigation actions

•   Reported profit before tax £1,804m, down 23%, primarily due to reduced EBITDA

•   Net cash inflow from operating activities £5,963m; normalised free cash flow2 £1,459m, down 27%, primarily due to reduced EBITDA, higher cash capital expenditure and adverse working capital, offset by a cash receipt from the monetisation of a non-strategic revenue stream generated from our building infrastructure and timing of tax payments

•   Capital expenditure £4,216m, up 6%, primarily due to increased network and equipment investment

•   As previously disclosed, no final dividend for 2020/21, but payments expected to resume at an annual rate of 7.7p per share in 2021/22

•   Outlook for 2021/22: adjusted2 revenue to be broadly flat year on year; adjusted2 EBITDA between £7.5bn-£7.7bn; capital expenditure c.£4.9bn; normalised free cash flow between £1.1bn-£1.3bn.

Performance against 2020/21 outlook

 2020/21 outlook2020/21 performance
Change in adjusted1 revenue Down 5-6%Down 6%
Adjusted1 EBITDA£7.3bn-7.5bn£7.4bn
Capital expenditure1£4.0bn-4.3bn£4.2bn
Normalised free cash flow1£1.3bn-1.5bn£1.5bn

1 See Glossary on page 3.

2 On 1 April 2020, Supply Chain and Pelipod, which serve several parts of BT, were transferred from Enterprise to the central procurement team and as a result are now reported in Group ‘Other’ financial results. The prior year comparative for the Enterprise and Other CFU results has been restated to reflect this. Refer to the announcement on 29 June 2020 for further information.

Glossary of alternative performance measure

AdjustedBefore specific items. Adjusted results are consistent with the way that financial performance is measured by management and assist in providing an additional analysis of the reporting trading results of the group.
EBITDAEarnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
Adjusted EBITDAEBITDA before specific items, share of post tax profits/losses of associates and joint ventures and net non-interest related finance expense.
Free cash flowNet cash inflow from operating activities after net capital expenditure.
Capital expenditureAdditions to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets in the period.
Group NPSGroup NPS measures Net Promoter Score in our retail business and Net Satisfaction in our wholesale business.
Normalised free cash flowFree cash flow (net cash inflow from operating activities after net capital expenditure) after net interest paid and payment of lease liabilities, before pension deficit payments (including cash tax benefit), payments relating to spectrum, and specific items. For non-tax related items the adjustments are made on a pre-tax basis. It excludes cash flows that are determined at a corporate level independently of ongoing trading operations such as dividends, share buybacks, acquisitions and disposals, and repayment and raising of debt.
Net debtLoans and other borrowings and lease liabilities (both current and non-current), less current asset investments and cash and cash equivalents, including items which have been classified as held for sale on the balance sheet. Currency denominated balances within net debt are translated into sterling at swapped rates where hedged. Fair value adjustments and accrued interest applied to reflect the effective interest method are removed.
Specific itemsItems that in management’s judgement need to be disclosed separately by virtue of their size, nature or incidence. In the current period these relate to retrospective regulatory charges, restructuring charges, the Dixons Carphone settlement, sale of spectrum, divestment-related items, property rationalisation costs, Covid-19-related items, net interest expense on pensions and tax credit on specific items.

BT Group assess the performance of the group using a variety of alternative performance measures. Reconciliations from the most directly comparable IFRS measures are in Additional Information on pages 35 to 36

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http://www.rns-pdf.londonstockexchange.com/rns/4783Y_1-2021-5-13.pdf

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