SBC Hits Estimates

The big telco beats Wall Street's earnings targets before a pair of charges.
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posted a solid second quarter Thursday, beating Wall Street earnings targets before a pair of charges.

The San Antonio telco made $1 billion, or 30 cents a share, for the quarter ended June 30. That's down from the year-ago $1.14 billion, or 34 cents a share, from continuing operations. But backing out a pair of charges related to SBC's Cingular Wireless unit and a long-distance agreement, latest-quarter earnings were 43 cents a share, 6 cents ahead of the Wall Street estimate.

Revenue, excluding SBC's 60% share of Cingular, which the company continues not to consolidate, rose 1.3% from a year ago to $10.3 billion. Including Cingular, SBC's revenue was in line with estimates at around $15.5 billion.

SBC said wireline data revenue rose 9.9% from a year ago, and the company added 360,000 high-speed Internet connections via digital subscriber lines. Long distance lines in service rose 23.6% from a year earlier, and retail consumer primary lines dropped 186,000.

SBC indicated it is on track to complete its acquisition of


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"SBC's second-quarter results demonstrate our ability to deliver solid financial returns as we compete aggressively and transform our business," said CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. "This was our fifth straight quarter of revenue growth, both business and consumer. Our attention to costs has allowed us to expand operating margins. And Cingular Wireless continues to make excellent progress, with strong subscriber growth and substantial margin improvement."

SBC said latest-quarter earnings were hit by SBC's portion of Cingular Wireless' $649 million of merger integration and noncash intangible amortization costs, amounting to 8 cents a diluted share, and a charge of $236 million, or a nickel a share, to terminate existing agreements with WilTel Communications. WilTel will continue to provide transitional and out-of-market long-distance services under a new agreement following the close of SBC's planned acquisition of AT&T.

Early Thursday, SBC was flat at $23.80.