Updated from 10:50 a.m. EDT

Sprint

reported earnings Tuesday that exceeded analysts' lowered expectations.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based company said that its third-quarter net income rose to $384 million, or 43 cents a share, compared to $359 million, or 41 cents a share, in the comparable quarter a year ago. Operating profits were $417 million, or 47 cents a share, compared with $419 million, or 48 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had predicted an operating profit of 46 cents a share. In setting that number, analysts excluded certain equity investments made by the company, a First Call researcher said.

Revenue at the nation's third-largest carrier rose to $4.40 billion from $4.30 billion a year ago. Long-distance revenue rose to $2.75 billion from $2.7 billion; local telephone revenue increased to $1.42 billion from $1.41 billion.

Sprint's

FON Group

, which includes local and long-distance service as well as the company's data business, was initially expected to post earnings of 49 cents a share, but it

TheStreet Recommends

warned Wall Street on Sept. 20 that it would miss that number.

Sprint PCS Group

(PCS)

, a unit that provides digital and wireless service, reported a slightly narrower loss than Wall Street had expected.

For the third quarter, PCS reported a net loss of $390 million, or 41 cents a diluted share, compared to a loss of $619 mllion, or 65 cents a diluted share, in the comparable quarter last year. Analysts polled by First Call had expected a loss of 42 cents a diluted share.

Revenue was $1.7 billion, compared to $844 million in the comparable quarter. The company said it signed up 839,000 new subscribers in the quarter, a 16% increase from the same period a year ago. Last month, the PCS Group warned that its wireless subscriber growth would fall short of its goal of 900,000 subscribers. It cited increased competition and the decision to cut some unprofitable customers.

Sprint finished Tuesday regular trading down 63 cents, or 3%, at $23.19, while Sprint PCS Group ended Tuesday regular trading down 94 cents, or 3%, at $30.81.

Price battles in the industry plus the collapse of the proposed

merger between

WorldCom

(WCOM)

and Sprint have adversely affected telecommunication stocks.