AT&T earnings reach $2.8b in first quarter

US telecommunications giant AT&T doubled its profit and sales in the first three months of the year, primarily because of its completed acquisition of BellSouth, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said profits reached $2.85 billion, helped by the BellSouth acquisition and growth in wireless revenue.

The earnings, which included $2.3 billion in acquisition-related charges and a $409 million gain from the sale of some assets, amounted to $0.45 per share for the period ended March 31, the report said.

That was up from $1.45 billion, or $0.37 per share, earned by AT&T in the first quarter of 2006, when it had not yet acquired BellSouth, it added.

First-quarter revenue rose 84% to $28.97 billion, up from a pre-merger tally of $15.76 billion in the same period a year ago, the report also said.

Had BellSouth and AT&T been combined in the first quarter of 2006, they would have reported roughly the same amount of revenue at $28.9 billion, and net income of $1.98 billion, it added.

The wireless unit, which is being re-branded from Cingular to AT&T, added 1.2 million customers, finishing the quarter with 62.2 million. It also generated higher revenue from non-voice services including text messaging, Web browsing and content downloads, the report said.