Eircom has financial results out this morning. The company said its revenue for the three months to the end of March was €311m, down 1% year on year; but it says the rate of revenue decline is improving. Operating costs for the quarter are down 6%. Eircom reported earnings of €120m, up 8% year on year as the company had to count in high storm costs the previous year.

Eircom's chief executive Richard Moat says this morning's figures are encouraging, pointing out that the company's revenue dipped 1% in the third quarter - two years ago the drop was 9% and last year it was 4%.  Mr Moat says this shows that Eircom's revenue is starting to stabilise and during the month of March, Eircom actually saw a rise in revenues year on year - the first such increase in about seven years. The Eircom CEO says the business is definitely reaching an inflection point, adding that earnings for the third quarter rose by €8m to 120m, compared with the second quarter. He said he was especially pleased with the company's mobile operations - earnings in that division raced 116% higher while revenues rose 5% year on year. He also said he is looking forward with confidence to future quarters. 

Eircom has revolutionised its products and services in recent years, and Mr Moat says is it still the only operator in Ireland to offer quad-play services - broadband, TV, mobile and home phone. The company has also continued rolling out high speed fibre broadband services and it now passes 1.2 million homes and premises in the country. It aims to have 1.6 million covered by the middle of next year, and Mr Moat says the company is rolling out high speed broadband at the rate of 10,000 homes and businesses a week. The Eircom CEO says he believes rolling out high speed broadband to 1.6 million customers is economically viable, adding that the business is installing future proof technology which will provide high speed services for many years to come.  Mr Moat says that rolling out fast speed technology to the most rural of homes is very expensive, explaining that it could cost €10,000 per home. This means that some areas are uneconomical for businesses to go into and that is why the Government is looking at the prospect of providing a subsidy in that respect.


MORNING BRIEFS - A competition investigation was launched last week with a raid on the offices of CRH subsidiary Irish Cement, looking for evidence it is abusing a dominant position in the market. Gardaí and officials from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) raided Irish Cement's offices last week - the inquiry is focused on charges of abuse of a dominant position, an offence under both Irish and European law. Irish Cement confirmed the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission carried out an inspection in Platin, County Meath. It said it operates to the highest business standards across all elements of its operations and is confident that it has no issue in relation to competitive practice.

*** Shortages of finance and skills are threatening the building industry's revival, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The PwC construction industry survey says 95% of companies are confident about the next three years, and 87% expect turnover to increase over the coming months. More than two-thirds plan to increase job numbers and four out of 10 expect to increase their workforces by more than 10%. But 63% of construction firms say it is still difficult to get finance. Almost half have looked for alternative sources of cash rather than banks, including private equity and joint-venture deals. On staff - nearly half, or 45%, are struggling with a skills gap and say they have difficulty recruiting certain types of employee with specialist skills. It said skilled contractors and site managers are the biggest areas of lack of skills.