Data service sales push Bell ahead; Third-quarter profit rises 10 percent, company says; Telecommunications


NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic Corp., the No. 2 U.S. local phone company, said yesterday that third-quarter profit rose 10 percent as sales of data services soared.

Profit from operations rose to $1.2 billion, or 76 cents a share, from $1.09 billion, or 69 cents, in the year-earlier period. Sales rose 5 percent to $8.3 billion from $7.91 billion. Per-share earnings matched the average estimate of analysts polled by First Call Corp.

After a charge of $27 million, or 2 cents a share, related to its acquisition of Nynex Corp., Bell Atlantic had net income of $1.17 billion, or 74 cents a share. In the 1998 quarter, charges totaling about $1.1 billion, or 70 cents a share, for a retirement program, merger costs and international investments resulted in a loss of $8 million, or 1 cent per share.

About 80 percent of revenue growth at Bell Atlantic's U.S. phone operations came from sales of data services.

"This was a watershed quarter," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg said in a statement.

New York-based Bell Atlantic, whose territory stretches from Maine to Virginia, expects to complete its $90.8 billion purchase of GTE Corp. in the first quarter.

In Bell Atlantic's U.S. phone operations, revenue rose 2.9 percent to $6.6 billion. Sales of data services rose 25 percent to $749 million.

The company increased its number of phone lines 3.4 percent to 42.7 million as customers added Internet connections. Minutes of use on the network rose 4.2 percent.

Sales of packages that combine caller-identification, call waiting and other services rose almost 76 percent. Revenue from caller ID rose 31 percent, with the number of customers at 7.4 million, while home voicemail revenue rose 9.6 percent.

In its wireless operations, Bell Atlantic added 608,000 customers, 59,000 more than a year earlier. That gave it 10.6 million worldwide, up 34 percent from the 1998 quarter, as revenue increased 26 percent to $1.5 billion.

Bell Atlantic shares fell 12.5 cents yesterday to $63.8125.

Pub Date: 10/21/99

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