Bell Atlantic Corp. on Thursday reported its first-quarter profit grew 28 percent compared with deflated year-ago results, when the regional telephone company set aside $244 million to lure workers to retire early.
But the results, which met Wall Street expectations, reflected a slight 2.4 percent revenue increase in its domestic telecommunications business, which was hurt by a mandatory reduction in phone rates.
WorldCom Inc., the fourth-largest long-distance phone company, said it lost $415.7 million in the three months ended March 31. But the loss was slightly narrower than Wall Street forecasts and was largely due to one-time expenses for its merger with Brooks Fiber Properties Inc., a local telecommunications services company.
Bell Atlantic Corp.
The New York-based company said it earned $893.4 million, or $1.13 a share on a diluted basis, in the first quarter. That was up from a profit of $698.2 million, or 89 cents a share on a diluted basis, in the year-ago quarter.
The quarterly profit was reduced by a $147 million charge for an enhanced pension offer to employees, but that was more than offset by the $244 million year-ago charge also related to buyouts.
Revenues grew 3.2 percent to $7.65 billion from $7.42 billion.
The results matched expectations of analysts surveyed by First Call. The company's stock was down 3 percent in afternoon trading, falling $2.87 1/2 to $94.87 1/2 , on the New York Stock Exchange. The drop came after the stock rose 2 percent Wednesday in anticipation of the report.
The company said revenue was up 2.4 percent to $6.8 billion from its domestic telecommunications businesses, 21 percent to $977 million from mobile phones and 57 percent to $351 million from overseas services.
Profits from the company's core domestic business were hurt by up to $40 million set aside to pay for repairing damage from a severe ice storm this winter.
Separate from the employee buyouts, Bell Atlantic has eliminated 500 out of 3,100 jobs it intends to cut over the next few years to trim costs in its merger with Nynex Corp., which was completed last year.
WorldCom., based in Jackson, Miss., said its loss in the three months ended March 31 came to 41 cents a share on a diluted basis. That compared with a profit of $18.4 million, or 2 cents a share on a diluted basis, in the year-ago period. The year-ago results were restated to assume the company's merger with Brooks Fiber this past January already was completed.
Revenues rose to $2.35 billion from $1.70 billion.
The company's stock was up 31 1/4 cents a share at $43.93 3/4 in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
The company said revenue grew strongly from its core telecommunications business amid a 38 percent increase in traffic across its lines.
WorldCom agreed last November to buy MCI Communications Inc. for stock valued at $37 billion in a deal that would be the largest-ever corporate marriage. The deal is pending.
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