TalkTalk Jumps as Carrier Sees Limited Impact From Hackers

  • TalkTalk board starts review into website cyberattack
  • CEO says it's too early to re-confirm longer-term outlook

TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc said it is on target to meet analysts’ estimates for this year as the Internet-service provider grapples with the fallout from a cyber attack on its network. The shares jumped.

Chief Executive Officer Dido Harding said the company expects to meet the pre-hack market estimates for the fiscal year ending in March. Analysts currently predict adjusted revenue for the year of 1.87 billion pounds ($2.84 billion), according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Still, Harding stopped short of confirming longer-term forecasts, saying it’s too early to assess the long-term impact on the business. In May, the London-based company projected annual sales growth of 5 percent and a margin on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 25 percent for fiscal 2017.

“We can’t pretend that nothing’s happened over the last three weeks, but put that aside the business has a plan to meet market expectations,” Harding said in an interview Wednesday.

The shares rose 13 percent to close at 246 pence in London trading. The stock has declined 19 percent this year.

The company said it expects the final financial impact from the attacks to be 30 million pounds to 35 million pounds this fiscal year. The company has also appointed board member James Powell to lead an investigation into the attack.

Four people -- three of them teenagers -- have been arrested in connection with the attack on TalkTalk’s systems since the company disclosed the hack last month. Ultimately, the company said about 4 percent of its customers may have had sensitive personal data, such as bank account numbers, exposed, though none of the data would’ve given intruders enough information to steal money directly. The company was contacted by someone claiming responsibility for the attack demanding a ransom.

TalkTalk said first-half revenue rose to 912 million pounds. That compared with the 907 million-pound average analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Hacker attacks are becoming more common. Competitor Vodafone Group Plc said customer account information acquired from a third party were used in an attempt to access subscribers’ details just over a week after the TalkTalk case. Adultery website AshleyMadison.com was hit by hackers who exposed details of more than 36 million users in July.

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