Nextel Communications (NXTL) posted a sharply narrower fourth-quarter loss but warned of higher operating expenses in the first half of 2001.

The Reston, Va., company, the nation's largest independent digital mobile phone operator, said it lost $61 million fourth-quarter, or 8 cents a share, including a one-time gain, compared with a loss of $369 million, or 52 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Quarterly revenue rose to $1.65 million from $1.1 million last year, as the company added 2.16 million new subscribers within its domestic operations.

Looking ahead, Nextel projected that 2001 revenue would exceed $7 billion, with cash flow growth of 50%-65%. Revenue in 2000 was $5.71 billion. However, it warned that its domestic operating cash flow in the first quarter of 2001 "may not exceed fourth quarter 2000."

On Thursday, Nextel announced William Conway was replacing Daniel Akerson as chairman of its board, effective immediately.

Its shares were lately down $1.56, or 5.29%, to $28 in pre-open

Island

activity, down from Thursday's closing price of $29.56 in

Nasdaq

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