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Shares in BT rose this morning after the monster telco reported improved turnover and profit for the second quarter.

Group turnover rose 2 per cent to £4.66bn, up from £4.55bn during the same period last year.

Although the dominant telco only saw a slight increase in turnover, pre-tax profit jumped 55 per cent from £321m to £496m for the three months to the end of September 2002.

BT also managed to reduce its debt by £285m during the quarter. And once the disposal of its share in French telecoms outfit, Cegetel, is completed BT should see its debt reduced still further by around £2.5bn.

At the end of September BT's debts mountain was down to £13.1bn.

Despite improvements in BT's figures, today's results are likely to be remembered for the confirmation that growth targets set earlier this year were simply too ambitious.

CEO Ben Verwaayen had set a trend-bucking target of 6 - 8 per cent annual growth over the next three years. This week, though, investors and telecoms watchers were primed to expect that BT is expected to fall well short of this.

Today, BT's boss confirmed that the growth target "is unlikely to be achieved in the present market conditions" and said revenue growth would be in line with "current market expectations".

Despite that, the market has broadly welcomed the figres. By mid morning shares in BT were up 6.75p (3.59 per cent) at 195p. ®

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