Net and telecoms firms post profits; Lucent records a loss

AOL Time Warner returned to profit in the first quarter of this year, as revenue in its movie and TV business increased and...

AOL Time Warner returned to profit in the first quarter of this year, as revenue in its movie and TV business increased and restructuring measures took hold.

Net profit was $396m (£249m) for the quarter ended 31 March, compared with a net loss of $54.2bn (£34bn) for the same period a year ago, the company said.

Revenue increased 6% over the same period in 2002 to $10bn (£6.3bn), while operating income climbed 9% to $1.2bn (£754m).

The company still faces a hefty debt load. AOL Time Warner’s net debt rose from $25.8bn (£16.2bn) at the end of 2002 to $26.3bn (£16.5bn) in the first quarter.

For the 2003 business year, AOL Time Warner expects revenue for the entire group to grow in the mid-single digits compared with $41bn (£25.8bn) in 2002.

Meanwhile, AT&T reported solid first-quarter earnings of $571m (£359m) after losing $975m (£613m) in the first quarter of 2002.

Weathering competition from wireless and internet service providers as well as an overall decline in calling rates, the company reported income from continuing operations of $529m (£332m) for the first quarter of 2003.

Revenue for the first quarter, which ended 31 March, was $9bn (£5.7bn), down from $9.5bn (£6bn) in the same quarter a year ago.

The tough economy is paying off for online auction company eBay, which has reported first quarter net revenue of $476.5m (£299m), up 49% from a year ago.

For the quarter ended 30 March, eBay reported its highest consolidated net income ever: $104.2m (£65.5m).

Net transaction revenues, booked on items listed and sold on eBay, rose to $465.6m (£293m), up 118% from a year ago. About $92.2m (£58m) in transaction revenue was brought in through the company’s PayPal electronic payments unit, which was purchased last October.

Based on the latest figures, eBay said it now expects that revenue for 2003 could be as high as $2.05bn (£1.3bn), $150m (£94m) higher than the company’s most recent guidance.

Lucent Technologies posted yet another quarterly loss as its network-operator customers continue to spend sparingly.

The telecoms equipment manufacturer reported a loss for the second quarter, ended 31 March, of $553m (£348m), compared with $535m (£336m) for the same period a year ago. The company's loss from continuing operations was $351m (£221m).

Revenue for the second quarter dipped to $2.4bn (£1.5bn) from $3.5bn (£2.2bn) a year ago.

Lucent provided no forecast for its third or fourth quarters but said it continues "to work toward a return to profitability the late fiscal 2003".

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