AT&T profits soar 74% on strong wireless business

Earnings of AT&T Inc. in the third quarter surged 74% to $2.17 billion, due mainly to last year's acquisition of its former corporate parent and strong growth and profit margins at Cingular Wireless, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the company's quarterly profit equaled 56 US cents per share. In last year's third quarter, before the acquisition of AT&T Corp., the company earned $1.25 billion, or 38 US cents per share.

The company, formerly known as SBC Communications, changed its name to AT&T Inc. late last year after the acquisition of its former parent and its national long-distance communications business, the report said.

Revenues in the third quarter reached $15.64 billion, up from a pre-merger figure of $10.30 billion in the same period last year, the report further said.

Because AT&T shares management control of Cingular with BellSouth Corp., the mobile operation's revenues are not reflected in AT&T's tally. AT&T's proposed acquisition of BellSouth is awaiting a final vote from the Federal Communications Commission.

The strongest performance of the quarter came from Cingular, where third-quarter operating profit margins were 4 percentage points higher compared with a year ago and 3 percentage points better than in the second quarter. Cingular's third-quarter revenues rose to $9.55 billion from $8.7 billion a year ago.

AT&T owns 60% of Cingular and gets an equivalent portion of its profits. BellSouth owns the rest.