Sprint posts strong first quarter

Sprint reported stronger-than-expected earnings in its first fiscal quarter for its long-distance division and a narrower-than-expected loss for its mobile-phone division Monday after the close of trading in New York's financial markets.

The net loss for Sprint PCS Group, its wireless business, was US$0.05 a share narrower than estimates from analysts' polled by Thomson Financial/First Call. The PCS Group had a net loss of $0.15 per share for the first fiscal quarter, ended March 31, 2002, compared with a loss of $0.40 a share one year ago.

For its FON Group, which offers long-distance services, the company reported first-quarter earnings of $0.32 per diluted share, compared to $0.36 per diluted share a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting the FON Group to post earnings of $0.30 a share. Operating revenues, operating income, income from continuing operations and EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization costs, were all lower than the same quarter a year ago, however.

Analysts had expected Sprint to post a strong quarter, after the company signaled an uptick in subscriptions in March. The first quarter for the Westwood, Kansas, carrier followed a weak holiday season, which prompted the company to scale back subscriber growth estimates by about 20 percent for the 2002 fiscal year.

Sprint stuck to its revision in its subscriber growth projections Monday, expecting 3 million net subscriber additions during the year. No substantial changes to guidance for either division were made.

Sprint announced consolidated revenue of $6.76 billion, a figure including both of Sprint's long-distance and wireless divisions.

Sprint's stock has been hammered flat in the markets, along with most other telecommunications companies. Sprint's FON stock closed at $13.47, down about 5 percent from its opening price Monday, and down about 16 percent over the last three months. The PCS tracking stock closed at $10.02, up slightly from its opening price but down about 28 percent since February.

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