U.S. Cellular 4Q Earnings Jump

Wednesday, February 9th 2005, 9:32 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ Wireless services company U.S. Cellular Corp. on Wednesday said its fourth-quarter earnings nearly doubled on a surge in service revenue, new customers and the sale of certain market operations to Alltel Communications Inc., sharply beating Wall Street estimates.

Net income rose to $40.5 million, or 47 cents per share, from $20.6 million, or 24 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue climbed 8 percent to $719.5 million, as a 9 percent increase in service revenue offset a 2 percent drop in equipment sales.

U.S. Cellular recorded $10.1 million from the sale of operations in two markets to Alltel, as well as $26.6 million from the sale of seven markets. The company's number of customers rose 12 percent to about 4.9 million, helped by the launch of services in Oklahoma City, Lincoln, Neb., and Portland, Maine.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call predicted a profit of 15 cents on revenue of $742.2 million.

For the full year, net income soared to $109 million, or $1.26 per share, from $42.7 million, or 49 cents per share, last year. Revenue increased 10 percent to $2.84 billion from $2.58 billion, helped by 9 percent growth in service revenue and a 20 percent jump in equipment sales.

Analysts forecast earnings of 95 cents per share on revenue of $2.86 billion.