TalkTalk suffers a drop in share price

The Tulketh Mill contact centre in Blackpool Road, Preston
The Tulketh Mill contact centre in Blackpool Road, Preston

Shares in TalkTalk have slumped after the telecoms group dived to a half-year loss and trimmed its earnings outlook as it took a hit from efforts to secure more customers.

The FTSE 250 firm, which has a call centre in Blackpool Road, Preston, was down more than 10 per cent in early morning trading on the London Stock Exchange, as it booked a loss of £75million for the six months to the end of September, down from a £30m profit over the same period last year. Revenues also dipped five per cent to £828m for the half-year, with headline earnings dropping 34 per cent to £95m in response to the firm’s investment drive.

It also flagged that annual earnings would come in at the lower end of its target of £270million to £300m, as it pushes through further investment to capture a greater share of the market in the second half of the year. The group cut its dividend to 2.5p for the first half of the year, down from 5.29p in 2016.

TalkTalk chief executive Tristia Harrison said: “When we simplified and reset the business in May, we said our priorities were growth, cash and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation), in that order.

“We have now delivered a third consecutive quarter of growth in our broadband base, with both retail and wholesale bases growing; returned to on-net revenue growth; and delivered lower churn than a year ago.

“We expect to step up our planned investment in growth in the second half, as we take advantage of the strong demand we are seeing for our fixed low-price plans; fibre take-up and affordable propositions in both our residential and B2B markets.”

TalkTalk pulled in 46,000 more customers during the half-year after seeing a 29,000 drop over the period in 2016.

In February, it announced it was shedding about 35 jobs at its Preston centre due to ‘reduced contact volumes’.