Comsat earnings fall in 3rd quarter; Nonrecurring factors, help fashion a loss; revenue also down; Telecommunications

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Comsat Corp., the satellite communications company that plans to be taken over by Bethesda neighbor Lockheed Martin Corp., said yesterday that its third-quarter earnings and revenue were down from last year.

Comsat posted a net loss of $18.4 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $6.6 million -- 12 cents per share -- in the comparable quarter of 1998. The earnings figures for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 were dragged down by one-time factors, including a $36 million write-off of its direct investment in ICO Global Communications Ltd. and $5.3 million in costs related to the pending acquisition by Lockheed.

Comsat retains a $34.7 million indirect investment in ICO, a satellite communications company based in London.

Third-quarter revenue was $155.7 million, down 1.7 percent from the $158.4 million it took in a year earlier.

"The downturn is related to the continued intense competition and price pressure in the mobile communications market as well as uncertainty in a number of foreign markets in which Comsat does business, especially in Latin America," Comsat spokesman Jay Ziegler said.

In a separate announcement, Comsat said former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger resigned yesterday from its board of directors. Eagleburger said in a statement that he had decided to leave Comsat's board to make room for a director appointed by Lockheed, which won the right to name three Comsat directors after completing its tender for 49 percent of Comsat on Sept. 18.

John V. Sponyoe, chief executive of Lockheed's global telecommunications division, was named to fill the new board vacancy.

Congress' approval of changes in the 1962 legislation that created Comsat must be secured before Lockheed can take over the rest of the company. Comsat's stock fell $1.75 yesterday to close at $22.25.

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