issued upbeat financial guidance Monday, saying it continues to see strong usage rates and subscriber growth among wireless customers.

Commenting on the fourth quarter, Sprint said its wireless segment continues to see high levels of voice and data usage and "solid customer growth," while its local business is experiencing strong demand for broadband services and bundled offerings.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expect the company to earn 31 cents a share on $6.94 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter.

For next year, Sprint expects revenue growth in the low-single-digits, reflecting strong growth in wireless, steady performance in local and "continuing top-line pressure in long distance." The company sees full-year 2005 adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to be $8.5 billion to $8.7 billion.

Sprint put overall 2005 capital spending at $4.0 billion to $4.2 billion, saying about two-thirds will be directed at wireless. Sprint said its guidance excludes any impact from its merger with



and the proposed spin-off of the local business. The merger is currently expected to close in the second half of 2005.

Analysts were forecasting earnings of $1.39 a share on revenue of $28.18 billion next year.

The stock rose 6 cents to $24.73 in premarket trading.