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Thus, the phone and Net services and ISP company owned by ScottishPower, has announced a reduced operating loss for its third quarter, thanks mostly to a 11 per cent rise in sales. It lost £13.8 million on sales of £59.9 million. "Earnings" before interest, tax etc came in at a loss of £4.7 million, but this was better than the expected £5.6 million loss. Shares are up about 15 per cent at the moment.

The results are good news for Thus - which has the unlucky moniker of being the UK's worst performing telecoms stock - but the company is in the same shaky position as its competitors thanks to jittery investors who are losing their taste for risk following recent tech stock collapses. Thus works in three main markets: Internet (ISPs - it owns Demon Internet - and services), call centres and business telecoms networks.

Plans to sell its interactive services division - basically expensive information and competition phone lines - were touted in November when ScottishPower announced it would have to give Thus an extra £100 million to function. The sale is still on the cards, the company said. ®

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