Alltel posts earnings drop despite wireless growth

US-based Alltel reported that profits from its wireless business rose as it built sales and added customers in its fourth quarter, but overall earnings slid 12%, showing the effect of Alltel's spinoff of its traditional phone business, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Alltel reported a profit of $215.9 million, compared to $255.1 million, in the year-ago quarter.

Alltel had revenue for the quarter of $2.09 billion, compared to $1.84 billion a year before, the report added.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had projected a quarterly profit of $0.59 per share on revenue of $2.04 billion, it said.

Analysts on a conference call with Alltel executives praised the company for its strong performance.

Alltel has been active in acquiring other wireless carriers and has been the subject of talk that it could be a target for acquisition itself. Alltel president and CEO Scott Ford said the company would review 'a broad spectrum of options,' a process that's expected to take months.

For the fiscal year, Alltel's profit was $1.13 billion, compared to profits a year ago of $1.33 billion. Revenue for the year was $7.88 billion, up from $6.57 billion a year before.