Subscriber gains boost BSkyB stock

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LONDON -- Shares in British Sky Broadcasting broke through the £7 ($14) barrier to trade at a three-year high after the broadcaster reported it had increased overall net subscribers by 90,000 in the fourth quarter of the year.

Issuing a trading statement ahead of full-year results due July 27, the satcaster said its broadband subscriber base had grown by 259,000 to 716,000 and that churn levels had dropped from 13.7% to 12.1% over the three months through the end of June.

BSkyB shares, which peaked at £7.08, are trading at a 36% premium to the beginning of the year, despite ongoing uncertainties relating to a protracted antitrust inquiry the broadcaster faces.

Analysts said that the satcaster's management has demonstrated an ability to deliver growth.

"The acceleration in momentum, in the wake of the broadband launch, in our view makes Sky's medium-term targets more achievable," ABN Amro said in a research note.

Chief executive James Murdoch said the results were evidence of the satcaster's "transformation" from a pay TV platform to a triple-play operator with broadband, on-demand and telephony options.

"Today we are seeing the fastest growth in new TV customers that we've seen for years," he said. "We're now the nation's fastest-growing broadband provider. We're the only residential voice provider of any scale to see growth in a little while and that's hugely exciting."
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