WILLIAMS Communications exceeds expectations, despite quarterly loss


Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Second quarter operational earnings and net losses were better than expected at Williams Communications Group, although the Tulsa-based fiber-optic network company continues to post sizable losses.

Williams Communications announced second quarter unaudited earnings Wednesday that showed a net loss attributable to stockholders of $250 million, or 51 cents a share. The First Call consensus was for a loss of 57 cents a share.

Last year, the company reported a $3.9 million net loss, but that included a one-time, non-cash gain of $214.7 million.

Williams Communications nationwide fiber-optic network carries data, Internet, video and voice for telecom carriers, Internet service providers, utilities, and others.

Consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and other adjustments was $14.3 million.

Gains included cash investments of $44.1 million. Without it, operational losses were $29.8 million, still up over $44.6 million last year and better than a loss in the mid-$40 million range predicted by company managers during the first quarter.

``We clearly exceeded those expectations,'' said Patti Craft, director of investor relations.

Chairman Howard Janzen said the company is still on track to post positive operational earnings by the end of the year. The company also expects to be able to fund operations fully from cash generated from its business by the end of 2003, Craft said.

Williams Communications cut 400 jobs in late June as telecom issues continued to take a beating.

``At a time when our sector is facing significant challenges, we continue to gain momentum by profitably increasing our revenues, growing our customer base and posting financial operating results that meet and exceed expectations,'' Janzen said.

Consolidated revenues rose $281.3 million, a jump of 57 percent over the second quarter of last year. Network services revenue for the second quarter totaled $255.1 million.

Voice traffic on Williams sprawling network topped 2.6 billion minutes, a jump of 272 percent from second quarter of last year.

During the second quarter, the company bolstered its bank borrowing arrangements by $450 million, closed on the sale of Williams Communications Solutions' Canadian assets for $38 million and gained $60 million from stakes it sold in other technology companies.

In addition, Williams Communications agreed to sell its remaining investment in ATL _ which includes a Brazilian wireless license _ to American Movil for $400 million. Closing is anticipated in the third quarter.