posted fourth-quarter numbers Tuesday that were in line with analysts' estimates.
The big Kansas telco, which operates a landline business as the
Sprint FON Group
and a wireless operation as
, posted a slight fourth-quarter corporatewide profit on 2% revenue growth. The company said it also trimmed debt during 2003 and exceeded some earnings and cash flow targets.
"I'm pleased with our operational and financial performance in the period," said CEO Gary Forsee. "Our results demonstrate that we kept our eyes focused on execution, even as we worked extensively to transform our organization to market-facing units for the business and consumer segments."
For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Sprint posted a profit of $38 million on revenue of $6.68 billion. That's down from the year-ago profit of $39 million, but up from year-ago revenue of $6.54 billion.
Sprint FON group posted earnings of $360 million, or 40 cents a share, on revenue of $3.54 billion. Adjusted earnings, excluding certain items, were 39 cents a share. That's 2 cents above the year-ago figure and above the Thomson First Call Wall Street analyst estimate. FON Group revenue fell 4% from a year ago and was flat with the third quarter.
Sprint PCS similarly beat Wall Street estimates by 2 cents, posting a 10-cent-a-share adjusted loss on $3.3 billion in revenue. On a bottom-line basis, Sprint PCS lost 31 cents a share.
The PCS Group added over a million net customers in the fourth quarter, consisting of 390,000 net direct customer additions combined with 640,000 from wholesale and affiliate partners. The PCS Group, through all channels, was serving a total of 20.4 million customers at the end of the year, an increase of more than 2.6 million, or 15%, from a year ago, Sprint said.
The good news at PCS was that churn, the monthly rate at which customers leave the service, was flat with third-quarter levels at 2.7%. In late November, wireless local numberportability was instituted for larger markets across the United States. "While the PCS Group experienced an increase in churn in December following WLNP implementation, the full quarter impact on net additions was immaterial," Sprint said. Sprint
previewed its good news with Wall Street last month.