Phone Profits Down

BellSouth's fourth-quarter profit plunged 29 percent as the telecommunications giant was saddled with more than 350 million dollars in restructuring costs, continued asset writedowns and a generally feeble economic climate. Excluding the unusual charges, the results announced today beat Wall Street's forecast.

BellSouth says it earned 792 million dollars, or 42 cents per share, in the final three months of 2001, down from 1.1 billion dollars, or 59 cents per share, in the same period a year before. Not counting the one-time costs associated with employee reductions, asset writedowns and currency losses, BellSouth earned 1.9 billion dollars, or 63 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, up from the 1.12 billion dollars, or 59 cents per share, in the October-December quarter of 2001.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call expected BellSouth to earn 60 cents per share. The Atlanta-based telecommunications company is the largest local phone provider in nine Southeastern states.