EchoStar Communications Profits Jump

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Satellite television provider EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH), parent company of The Dish Network (search), reported a surge Thursday in fourth-quarter profits as the subscription-oriented service added 430,000 new customers.

EchoStar said it earned $70 million, or 15 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, in contrast to a small profit of just $3 million, or 1 cent a share, during the same period in 2003.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 19 cents per share.

Still, Wall Street appeared to welcome Echostar's results. Echostar shares rose 81 cents, or 2.8 percent, to close at $29.64 on the Nasdaq Stock Market (search).

Revenue rose 28 percent to $1.93 billion from $1.51 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.

Officials said Dish Network's new subscribers gave the company a total of approximately 10.9 million customers at the end of 2004, an increase of 1.48 million from Dec. 31, 2003.

The report came one day after EchoStar announced that an internal audit had uncovered "significant deficiencies" in the company's internal controls over financial reporting. But EchoStar, in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (search) filing, said those shortcomings would not require adjustment of its financial statements.

The audit revealed that an "officer in charge of a certain business function" in previous years directed inaccurate documentation that was used to determine payments made to a vendor. Neither the officer nor the business function were identified, but the filing said the employee has been disciplined, and that other changes had been made to EchoStar's operating and control polices and procedures.