AT&T earnings rise 17% in last quarter

The fourth quarter earnings of US telecommunications giant AT&T rose 17%, the telecommunications company reported, reaffirming its growth target for 2007 and raising projections for the cost savings expected from the just-completed buyout of BellSouth, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said for the three months ended December 31, the nation's largest provider of local phone, cellular and DSL Internet services posted net income of $1.94 billion

In the same quarter a year earlier, earnings totaled $1.66 billion, the report said.

Fourth-quarter revenues reached $15.9 billion, a 23% increase from $12.9 billion in the final months of 2005, it added.

The AT&T results included only negligible amounts of revenue and profit from BellSouth, as the $86 billion acquisition closed only two days before the end of the quarter, the report said.

The deal gave San Antonio-based AT&T full ownership of Cingular Wireless and extended the company's local phone territory across the Southeast. Cingular was still 40% owned by BellSouth for most of the fourth quarter, so AT&T's revenue figure only included two days worth of sales by the cell phone venture, the report said.

In its final quarter as an independent company, BellSouth earned net income of $1.2 billion, 29 % higher than the $963 million earned a year earlier. Revenue increased from $8.7 billion to $9.1 billion, less than 5%, the report added.