Sprint ( FON) posted a stronger-than-expected second quarter Wednesday, aided by 17% revenue growth in its wireless unit.

For its second quarter ended June 30, the Overland Park, Kan., telco reported earnings of $233 million, or 16 cents a share. That's up from the year-ago $7 million, or less than a penny a share. Revenue rose to $6.87 billion from $6.46 billion a year earlier.

On a so-called adjusted basis, removing the effect of special items, latest-quarter earnings climbed to 20 cents a share from 17 cents a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast an 18-cent profit on revenue of $6.72 billion. Wednesday marked the first time Sprint reported its landline and wireless businesses as a single unit, following this spring's buy-in of the Sprint PCS tracking stock.

The company said consolidated adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 1% from a year ago to $2.03 billion, while consolidated adjusted operating income rose 5% year-over-year and 6% sequentially. Second-quarter free cash flow was $692 million.

Sprint PCS posted average revenue per user of $62, while adding 897,000 users, including 505,000 direct additions. The company said churn, or the monthly rate of customer defection, dropped 50 basis points in the latest quarter. Meanwhile, Sprint's long-distance business reported a revenue decline of 7%.

The company said it expects to post earnings of around 76 cents a share on a 3%-4% year-over-year top-line gain in 2004. The EPS estimate is above Sprint's previous range but in line with the Wall Street consensus estimate. Analysts are expecting Sprint to post $27 billion in 2004 revenue.

On Tuesday, Sprint closed at $18.02.

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