Earnings: Amazon.com, Dupont, BP, Lucent, Lockheed Martin, BellSouth

Earnings: Amazon.com | Dupont | Lucent | BP | Lockheed Martin | BellSouth |

Amazon.com 3Q Earnings Fall; Shares Jump

SEATTLE - Internet retailer Amazon.com (AMZN) said Tuesday that third-quarter earnings fell by more than a third, but the company still managed to beat analysts' expectations.

Shares of Amazon surged nearly 11 percent after the results were announced.

The Seattle-based company reported net income of $19 million, or 5 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with earnings of $30 million, or 7 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Sales for the quarter rose 24 percent to $2.31 billion, from $1.86 billion in the same quarter last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 3 cents per share on average, on revenue of $2.25 billion.

Before the results were announced, Amazon.com rose 75 cents, or 2.28 percent, to close at $33.63 in trading Tuesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. In after-hours trading, shares rose $3.61.

Dupont Posts 3Q Profit

WILMINGTON, Del. - (AP) - Chemical maker Dupont Co. said Tuesday that it swung to a third-quarter profit on higher sales and lower fixed costs, despite higher expenses for raw materials.

The company earned $485 million, or 52 cents per share, versus a year-ago loss of $82 million, or 9 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items, earnings per share rose to 49 cents from 33 cents a year ago, when results were weighed down by charges related to hurricane damage and cleanup costs.

Revenue grew 7 percent to $6.31 billion, reflecting 3 percent higher local prices, 3 percent higher volume, and a 1 percent currency effect.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast, on average, a quarterly profit of 45 cents per share and revenue of $6.13 billion.

The company said raw material costs were $180 million higher than last year despite lower market prices for U.S. natural gas, but these were fully offset by increases in prices for goods sold. Dupont also credited improved results to lower fixed costs.

Dupont forecast a 2006 profit of about $2.86 per share and said it continues to believe it will meet its long-term financial goal of 10 percent annual growth in earnings per share.

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Lucent Income Nearly Flat

NEW YORK - (AP) - Telecom equipment company Lucent Technologies Inc., which is being acquired by France's Alcatel SA, aid Tuesday its fiscal fourth-quarter net income was just about flat as sales grew slightly.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the company earned $371 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with $372 million or 7 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. The company said the most recent quarter's results included a tax benefit of about a penny per share.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $2.56 billion from $2.43 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings of 4 cents per share on sales of $2.39 billion.

For the full fiscal year, Lucent earned $527 million, or 11 cents per share, down from $1.19 billion or 24 cents per share in fiscal 2005. Sales fell 7 percent to $8.80 billion from $9.44 billion in the prior year.

Analysts were looking for earnings of 13 cents per share on sales of $8.65 billion.

The Alcatel acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year.

Bp Profit Slumps On Alaska Closure

LONDON -(AP) - BP PLC (BP) reported a 3.6 percent drop in third-quarter profit on Tuesday because of lost production in Alaska, higher taxes in Britain and a slump in refining margins.

BP, which has experienced a run of difficulties in the United States, said net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 came to $6.23 billion, compared with $6.46 billion in the third quarter of 2005. Revenue in the third quarter climbed 4 percent to $70.7 billion.

Production for the period averaged 3.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, down 0.2 percent from the year-ago period and down 5 percent from the second quarter this year.

The results reflected London-based BP's woes in the United States, where several of its fields experienced outages and delays.

The company halved production at its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska after severe pipeline corrosion and a small leak were uncovered. Production has now reached 400,000 barrels per day, double the low point but still below the previous average of 450,000 barrels per day.

It has also delayed the opening of its Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico — damaged by Hurricane Dennis last year — from 2007 to the middle of 2008 because of equipment failures.

The platform is the largest in the Gulf and is expected to produce about 240,000 barrels of oil and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

As well as its U.S. production troubles, BP was faced with higher taxes in Britain's North Sea and lower refining margins.

"The trading environment reflected higher oil realizations and retail margins but lower refining margins and gas realizations compared to a year ago," said Chief Executive John Browne.

A 10-percentage-point rise in U.K. North Sea oil taxes was enforced for the first time in the third quarter. As a result, the company's effective tax rate was about 40 percent in the third quarter, compared to 36 percent in the second quarter.

The average price of a barrel of Brent oil, a key U.K. North Sea crude benchmark, rose 13 percent in the third quarter compared to the year-earlier period.

But average quarterly global refining margins were down 32 percent year-on-year after being boosted in the year-earlier period by the impact of hurricanes on prices.

Falling oil prices have further depressed BP's earnings, with light sweet crude trading below $59 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange — down from the record $78.40 a barrel reached in July.

BP's adjusted net profit — earnings before extraordinary items and excluding changes in the value of inventories — was $4.5 billion. That was slightly better than the $4.74 billion expected by analysts.

Shares in the company rose 1 percent to 607 pence ($11.34) on the London Stock Exchange.

BP's value has fallen 20 percent since April as the company struggles to restore its profile in the United States following the Prudhoe Bay oil spill, the Thunder Horse platform delays, investigations into a March 2005 refinery explosion in Texas that killed 15 workers and allegations that it manipulated crude-oil and gasoline markets in the United States.

BP has already settled several lawsuits relating to the Texas City blast and has put aside $1.2 billion to resolve legal disputes. It also began a complete review of its global operations following the blast.

Browne has been ordered to appear in court to give a sworn deposition in one lawsuit brought by a woman whose parents were among those killed.

The company has declined to comment on a report by the British Broadcasting Corp. that a probe by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board into the explosion has attacked the company's safety standards. The BBC said that the report by the CSB, which is due for release early next year, alleges that the eight previous safety incidents at the facility were not property investigated, and that the right corrective actions were not taken.

Lockheed Martin Profit Beats Views

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) said on Tuesday that third-quarter profit rose a greater-than-expected 47 percent, as the world's No. 1 defense contractor posted strong sales of electronic systems and benefited from a one-time tax gain.

Lockheed, which is taking advantage of record levels in U.S. defense spending, extra funding for operations in Afghanistan, and more outsourcing of government technology projects, also raised its full-year profit forecast above Wall Street estimates.

The company, best known for its F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missiles but focused increasingly on civilian technology, said profit increased to $629 million, or $1.46 per share, from $427 million, or 96 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 4 percent to $9.61 billion.

Profit easily beat Wall Street's expectation of $1.24 per share, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue was below analysts' average estimate of $9.8 billion.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based company posted higher sales at its systems and information technology unit and at its space systems unit. Sales at its aeronautics unit fell.

It benefited in the quarter from a one-time land sale, which increased profit by 5 cents per share, and a one-time tax gain related to export tax benefits claimed for previous years, which increased profit by 14 cents per share.

Citing operational improvements and the benefit of one-time gains, Lockheed raised its full-year profit forecast to a range of $5.45 to $5.60 per share. Analysts expected $5.29 per share, on average.

For 2007, Lockheed forecast profit in the range of $5.60 to $5.80 per share. Analysts expected $5.65 per share, on average.

Lockheed shares are up about 41 percent over the past 12 months, leading the Standard & Poor's Aerospace and Defense index to a gain of about 27 percent.

Defense companies have mostly outperformed other large companies, with the S&P 500 index up about 16 percent over the past 12 months.

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Bellsouth Reports Rise In Earnings, Beating Expectations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Telecommunications carrier BellSouth Corp. (BLS) reported a better-than-expected rise in third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, led by growth in wireless and high-speed Internet services.

The company, which has agreed to be acquired by AT&T Inc. (T), said earnings, including its 40 percent share in wireless company Cingular but excluding special items, rose 26 percent from a year earlier to $1.18 billion, or 65 cents a share.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast, on average, earnings before special items of 58 cents a share.

Net income from continuing operations rose 30 percent to $1.06 billion, or 58 cents a share, BellSouth said.

Cingular Wireless was a significant contributor to the quarterly growth, it said. AT&T, which holds the remaining 60 percent stake in Cingular, has also been helped by a rise in subscribers and profits at the wireless venture amid a decline in traditional phone users.

BellSouth's access lines as of Sept. 30 totaled 19.0 million, down 6.9 percent year-over-year. Retail residential lines fell 135,000 in the quarter, the company said, reflecting a shift to mobile phones and competition from cable providers' telephone services.

Growth in Internet subscriptions, along with wireless communications, also helped to bolster business, and network data revenue in the quarter exceeded $1.3 billion, a 12.8 percent rise from a year earlier.

Total consolidated revenue from continuing operations totaled $5.2 billion, up 3 percent from the same quarter of 2005, it said.

BellSouth shares rose slightly in pre-market trade to $45.70, compared with a close on Monday at $45.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.