Sprint 4Q Profit Up 14 Pct.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Sprint Corp.’s profit rose 14 percent for the fourth quarter thanks to heavy long-distance calling, but the company’s stock fell sharply as Tuesday’s report failed to meet Wall Street expectations.
The nation’s No. 3 long-distance phone company earned $404.6 million, or 93 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $356.5 million, or 56 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Sprint’s latest results included a one-time gain of $104 million, or 14 cents a share, from the sale of local exchanges and other investments. Excluding those gains, Sprint’s per-share earnings amounted to 79 cents a share, below analyst forecasts of about 85 cents per share.
Shares of Sprint were down $2.25 to close at $81.93 3/4 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Fourth-quarter revenues grew 7.5 percent to $4.14 billion from $3.85 billion a year earlier. Long-distance operating income grew 32 percent to $382 million, up from $290 million in the fourth quarter of 1997. Minutes of use rose 19 percent.
Local telephone revenues rose 6.3 percent to $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter,
Sprint’s wireline operations were boosted in the fourth quarter by an airline mileage partnership with Northwest Airlines and the launch of the company’s Business Flex plan, chief executive officer William T. Esrey said. The company also introduced its Sprint Sense Anytime and Sprint Sense Unlimited residential calling plans during the quarter.
For all of 1998, Sprint earned $1.54 billion, or $3.54 a share, up from $1.37 billion, or $3.14 a share in 1996. Revenues grew to $16.02 billion from $14.87 billion.