AT&T Profits Sharply Off

Long-distance telephone and cable-television giant AT&T Corp. said Tuesday third-quarter profits fell sharply amid stiff competition and weak prices in the long-distance telephone market.

AT&T, which aims to decide by year's end whether to sell its AT&T Broadband cable-television unit, said third-quarter profits excluding one-time items dropped to 4 cents a share, from 35 cents a share in the year-ago period.

Wall Street analysts expected New York-based AT&T to earn 2 cents to 5 cents a share, with a mean forecast of 4 cents a share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

Including charges to dissolve its Concert international joint venture with British Telecommunications Plc and other items, AT&T posted a loss of $2.2 billion, or 69 cents a share. AT&T's net income, including a $13.5 billion gain on the spin-off of AT&T Wireless Services Inc. , was $11.06 billion, or $3.13 a share.

Revenues totaled $13.1 billion, down 7.7 percent from the year-ago quarter.

AT&T, the No. 1 U.S. long-distance telephone and cable television company, said a continued drop in long-distance voice revenue offset improvements in its AT&T Broadband cable-TV unit, and higher sales of data and Internet services to businesses.

AT&T Tuesday named cable industry veteran William Schleyer as head of AT&T Broadband, succeeding Dan Somers, who is retiring from the company. Meanwhile, the Communications Workers of America union said AT&T plans to shed 2,400 jobs, or less than 2 percent of its work force, in its latest round of cost-cutting.

Shares of AT&T closed at $17.70, down 60 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has fallen about 32 percent since Oct. 25, 2000, when it announced plans to restructure its main businesses into separate companies. It has underperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 Index by about 13 percent over that time.