Bell Atlantic profit up 6.5% to $414.5 million in 1st period


Bell Atlantic Corp. yesterday reported net income of $414.5 million for the first quarter, a 6.5 percent gain from the same period in 1994 resulting from an increased number of cellular fTC subscribers and a slight drop in expenses.

"Our results for the first quarter of 1995 indicate that we are on target to achieve our financial goals for the year," said Chairman and Chief Executive Raymond W. Smith.

The Philadelphia-based regional Bell company, whose 95 cents per-share earnings compared with income of 89 cents per share in the previous first quarter, also cited its investment with Nynex Corp. in CAI Wireless Systems Inc. and the hiring of a former CBS Broadcast Group president as positive events for the period ended March 31.

But Bell Atlantic's net income was affected by a $19.6 million charge resulting from investment in Mexico's largest independent cellular provider and the recent 25 percent devaluation of Mexico's currency.

The charge marks the second straight quarter in which Bell Atlantic has deflated its earnings because of its 42 percent stake in Grupo Iusacell Mexico SA. Last quarter, the company took a $19 million charge.

"We remain confident in the long-term potential of our investment in Grupo Iusacell," said Mr. Smith.

Bell Atlantic's growth in other areas remained strong, however.

The $24.3 billion telecommunications company's revenues for the first quarter remained virtually unchanged at $3.45 billion, while operating expenses fell to $2.62 billion, a 2 percent decrease compared to the $2.67 billion registered in 1994.

"The company targets earnings growth between 6 percent and 9 percent, so it was a good quarter," said William N. Deatherage, an analyst with S. G. Warburg & Co. "And on the revenue side, if you take what they reported and add back certain items, it boosts their revenue by nearly 6 percent. That suggests fundamental strength."

Bell Atlantic's stock price closed at $53.25 per share yesterday, up 25 cents.

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