Wireless contracts aid Lucent's quarterly profit streak

Lucent Technologies reported higher-than-expected fourth quarter sales on Wednesday, boosted in part by several large contracts, especially in its wireless segment, as well as increased demand for VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), high-speed data and broadband access.

The Murray Hill, New Jersey, telecommunications equipment and services company reported revenue of US$2.4 billion for the three months ended Sept. 30, up 19 percent from US$2.03 billion it reported in the fourth quarter of last year.

Net income came in at US$348 million, or US$0.07 per diluted share, as compared to US$99 million, or US$0.02 per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding several one-time gains and losses, Lucent earned US$0.03 a share, the company said.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predicted earnings of US$0.03 on sales of US$2.3 billion for Lucent's fourth quarter.

For the fiscal year, Lucent reported revenue of US$9.05 billion, an increase of 7 percent compared to US$8.47 billion for fiscal 2003. Net income for fiscal 2004 was US$1.14 billion, or US$0.25 per diluted share, compared to a net loss in fiscal 2003 of US$770 million, or US$0.29 per diluted share, marking Lucent's first year of revenue growth and profitability since 2000, the company said.

Lucent estimated revenue growth in 2005 in the mid-single digits on a percentage basis, mirroring growth in the overall equipment industry.

The company said growth has been driven by its service providers moving to 3G (third-generation) networks for mobile high-speed data services on the wireless side, while on the wire-line side, a transition to broadband access and new infrastructures and applications using IP technology, such as VOIP, padded the bottom line.

In July, the company announced that Verizon Wireless agreed to spend US$5 billion on a variety of Lucent networking equipment, software and services within six years.

Lucent said it plans to continue focusing on those growth areas as well as other sectors like services, government and emerging markets outside the U.S.

In the past year, Lucent sewed up over 100 customer wins in 35 countries, announced 18 new products, 10 new technology partnerships and one acquisition to enhance its converged networks business, the company said.

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