Sprint Corp. (FON), the No. 3 U.S. long-distance telephone company, Monday posted a first-quarter profit compared with a year-ago loss, but a weak economy, cautious spending by its customers and stiff competition weighed on sales in its main long-distance business.

On a consolidated basis, including the operations of both its long-distance telephone and wireless communications businesses, Sprint's first-quarter earnings totaled $140 million, compared with a loss of $76 million a year ago.

Consolidated revenue rose 8 percent to $6.76 billion.

FON Group, Sprint's main local and long-distance telephone and data business, reported a profit of $286 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with $315 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago.

Wall Street analysts expected FON Group's earnings to be in the range of 25 cents a share to 34 cents a share, with a mean forecast of 30 cents, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

FON Group's operating revenue dropped 8 percent to $4.03 billion.

Sprint PCS, the company's wireless telephone unit, had a loss of $146 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with a loss of $391 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago. Operating revenue rose 41 percent to $2.85 billion.

Sprint PCS added 725,000 million direct subscribers, which was in line with its forecast of 700,000 to 750,000 new customers. It reiterated that it expects to add 3 million customers this year.

For the full-year 2002, Sprint reiterated that profits in the FON Group, excluding losses from a defunct data project, will approach $1.40 a share for 2002. Full-year revenue could decline at a low single-digit rate.

Trading in shares of Sprint and Sprint PCS were halted in after-hours trading ahead of the earnings release.