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'Momentous year' for TalkTalk as it surges from 3rd place to, er, 4th

This is 'fundamentally better', insists Harding

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TalkTalk has reported a slight fall in revenue and pre-tax profit for the full financial year.

The budget telco told the City that sales for the 12 months to 31 March had slipped by one per cent to £1.67bn compared with £1.68bn a year earlier.

Profit before tax dipped four per cent to £122m, the company added.

TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding characterised the year as "momentous" and claimed that the business - under her tenure - was "fundamentally better" than three years ago.

She noted that the ISP had returned to year-on-year revenue growth in the company's final quarter.

Sales in the final quarter of the financial year hit £427m - up a conservative 1.4 per cent on the same period in 2012. TalkTalk said it added 64,000 fully unbundled broadband and phone line customers during that quarter, although 34,000 broadband-only subscribers abandoned the service.

The company said its total broadband base stood at just over 4 million customers - keeping TalkTalk in fourth place behind rivals BT, Virgin Media and BSkyB. It had been in the number three spot, before being overhauled by Sky last November.

For the foreseeable future, TalkTalk looks set to remain in that spot given BSkyB's planned acquisition of O2 and BE's home broadband and fixed line network - which has roughly half a million subscribers.

TalkTalk said that fibre-broadband uptake remained "modest": it currently has 73,000 fibre customers on its books.

Communications watchdog Ofcom recently confirmed it was investigating BT - whose boss Ian Livingston branded TalkTalk "copper Luddites" in a row over fibre rollout - following repeated complaints from TalkTalk about BT's supposed stranglehold on the nascent fibre broadband market.

"We remain actively engaged with Ofcom and government to promote greater competition in fibre through a tighter regulatory framework," TalkTalk said. The company wants BT to price its fibre cabling installation more fairly.

Last autumn, TalkTalk invested £62m in its YouView set-top box. As of the end of March the company said it had installed the service for 230,000 customers.

The ISP's shares are currently trading up more than seven per cent at 243.50 pence on the London Stock Exchange. ®

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