First match-up of the season for bitter Telecoms rivals

Telecoms giants BT and British Sky Broadcasting will lock horns again in the battle for broadband and pay-TV customers when they update on trading this week

BT has bought the rights to show 38 top flight games a season
BT has bought the rights to show 38 top flight games a season

Telecoms giants BT and British Sky Broadcasting will lock horns again in the battle for broadband and pay-TV customers when they update on trading this week.

Quarterly figures from BT on Thursday will be pitted against full-year figures from Sky on Friday, with both firms expected to update on attempts to grow market share in the cut-throat broadband market.

BT recently threw the gauntlet down to Sky when it revealed broadband customers will be able to watch Premier League football for free, after it bought the rights to show 38 top flight games a season.

The companies have also waged an increasingly acrimonious war of words over issues ranging from Sky’s refusal to show BT’s sport advertisements, to the prices BT charges rivals to use its network of copper wires.

BT’s results for its first quarter to the end of June are expected to show pre-tax profits dipping to £559m from revised profits of £567m a year earlier, on the back of rising costs.

Sky is expected to show continuing take-up of its subscription products, including strong gains in broadband customers numbers.

Most analysts expect Sky to increase pre-tax profits by 9% to £1.25bn for the year to the end of June.

Rising demand for Rolls-Royce’s civil aircraft engines is expected to boost the group’s order book when it reports results for the six months to the end of June on Thursday.

A glut of orders and lucrative long-term service deals has helped push its shares to record levels in recent weeks.

Investec Securities experts predict higher half-year earnings will send underlying pre-tax profits soaring by about 25% to £1.79bn for the full year, up from £1.43bn in 2012.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will unveil its latest financial results on Wednesday as the company remains under a cloud over multi-million pound bribery allegations in China.

The company’s second quarter results are expected to show sales up 2% to £6.6bn, but a 2% dip in net profits to £1.3bn as it comes up against tough comparisons.

A mounting consumer backlash to Unilever’s new Flora margarine recipe is likely to see the group face tough questions over its spreads business when it reports half-year results on Thursday.

Customers have reacted badly to the group’s recent recipe change for the popular spread, with many unhappy at the new texture, taste and smell.

Unilever is now being asked by many angry consumers to switch back to the previous Flora recipe, while falling sales across the wider spreads arm is also prompting City analysts to call for the division to be sold.

Hovis bread and Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods will be looked to for further reassurance over its turnaround plan when it reports half-year results tomorrow.

The debt-laden company reported encouraging signs for the first quarter, when a focus on marketing drove branded sales 2.2% higher to £275m.

Transport group National Express is expected to post a hefty slide in half-year profits on Wednesday, but signs of progress in its hard-hit coach business are boosting hopes of a turnaround.

The firm saw annual profits fall 9% after suffering one of the most difficult years in the 40-year history of its coach arm.

Analysts are expecting the slide in profits to worsen at the half-year stage, predicting a 15% drop to £69.5m.

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