EchoStar ( DISH) returned to profit in the fourth quarter, but fell short of analysts' earnings forecast, triggering a decline in its shares early Friday.

The Colorado-based company had net income of $3 million, or a penny a share, vs. a loss of $716 million, or 45 cents a share, a year ago. The consensus estimate was for a profit of 9 cents a share. Revenue rose 14% from a year ago to $1.51 billion

The fourth-quarter results included $51 million in charges associated with bond redemptions and a $56 million cost reduction associated with royalty obligations. EchoStar's loss a year ago was dominated by charges of $690 million relating to its failed merger with the former Hughes Electronics. That company, now known as DirecTV ( DTV), is under the control of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. ( NWS) following a deal with former parent General Motors ( GM).

EchoStar previously reported that its DISH Network satellite television service added about 340,000 net new subscribers during the fourth quarter, giving it more than 9.4 million subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2003, up approximately 1.2 million from 2002.

Shares fell $1.03, or 3%, to $33.61.