BellSouth Says Fourth Quarter On Target; Warns of Tougher 2001

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BellSouth

(BLS)

posted fourth-quarter earnings Monday of 59 cents per share, matching the consensus estimate of 19 brokers polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

The Atlanta-based Baby Bell said its fourth-quarter profits rose amid strong sales of data and wireless telephone services. Profits were $1.1 billion, compared with $1.05 billion, or 55 cents a share, in the same period one year ago. The company also said its revenue rose 9.8% to $7.4 billion.

However, BellSouth also said the cost of expanding its high-speed Internet business and its Latin American wireless venture would hurt profit growth in 2001. Next year, BellSouth expects 7% to 9% growth in earnings a share, and revenue growth of between 9% and 11%. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial are expected 2001 earnings per share of $2.40, an 8% rise over 2000 results.

BellSouth's shares closed at $43 on the

New York Stock Exchange

Friday. It's 52-week high is $53.50, and its 52-week low is $34.94.