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Sprint Quarterly Profit Up 21 Pct.

February 3, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Sprint Corp. today reported its fourth-quarter profits dropped 21 percent, below Wall Street expectations, amid sharply wider losses from its ventures in mobile-phone and overseas telecommunications services.

Sprint, the nation’s No. 3 long-distance phone company, said in the quarter ended Dec. 31 it earned $194.9 million, or 45 cents a share on a diluted basis. That was down from $245.3 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues grew to $3.85 billion from $3.58 billion.

The results were below analysts’ estimates surveyed by First Call. Sprint stock was up 37 1/2 cents a share to $61.31 1/4 in noon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Sprint said it lost $251 million before taxes from its venture in Sprint PCS, more than triple the year-ago period’s loss, as it expanded the digital mobile-phone service to 134 U.S. markets from 10 markets this past year.

It more than doubled its loss to $74 million from Global One, a joint venture with France Telecom and Deutsch Telecom that sells overseas telecommunications services to big businesses.

William Esrey, Sprint’s chairman and chief executive, said the company was acting to reduce its losses.

But Sprint said that its main businesses grew strongly, helped by rising revenues from long-distance and other phone services. Sprint said long-distance revenue increased 6.8 percent to a record $2.31 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $2.16 billion in the same period last year.

For all of last year, Sprint said it earned $952.5 million, or $2.18 a share on a diluted basis. That was down from $1.18 billion, or $2.77 a share in 1996.

Revenues grew to $14.87 billion from $13.89 billion.

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