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Quarterly results: Ericsson, AT&T, Sprint and Etisalat

NSN's annual increased from -€300m in 2011 to -€799 in 2012

Ericsson, AT&T, Sprint and Etisalat have all posted earnings statements for the first quarter of 2012, achieving varying levels of success.

Ericsson’s first quarter sales dropped four per cent to total SEK51bn ($7.55bn). The firm blamed an expected major decline in CDMA sales as well as lower operator network spending in regions with macro-economic or political uncertainty.

The vendor’s net profit, however, doubled to SEK8.8bn due in part to the one-off gain from selling its 50 per cent stake in handset joint venture Sony-Ericsson to Sony. The firm’s operating income, which excluded the gain from the Sony-Ericsson divestment, fell sharply from SEK6.8bn in 1Q11 to SEK2.8bn in 1Q12. This was partly due to a drop in gross margin which fell from 38.5 per cent to 33.3 per cent year-on-year.

“Sales of high-performance mobile broadband developed well in North America, Japan and Korea, while other regions such as Europe including Russia, parts of Middle East and India were weaker,” explained Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson.

“CDMA continued its expected decline in the transition to LTE and our services business showed continued momentum.”

US operator AT&T saw its consolidated Q1 revenues rise 1.8 per cent to $31.8bn.Operating expenses rose year-on-year to $25.7bn for the quarter, up from the $25.4bn sent in 1Q11 but operating income margin increased to 19.2 per cent from 18.6 per cent.

First-quarter 2012 net income attributable to AT&T totaled $3.6bn, or $0.60 per diluted share, up from $3.4bn, or $0.57 per diluted share, in the year-earlier quarter.

During the quarter, AT&T also began repurchasing shares under its outstanding 300 million share buyback authorisation. The company repurchased 67.7 million of its shares for $2.1bn.

“We continue to capitalize on our terrific momentum in mobile Internet,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Smartphone and branded computing device sales continue to set a record pace, mobile data revenues were up nearly 20 per cent, and we achieved this growth with expanding margins. These results add confidence in our outlook for the year.”

Rival Sprint didn’t perform quite so well, reporting a net loss of $863m, almost double the net loss of $439m it recorded in 1Q11.

The carrier attributed the increase in losses partly to depreciation of approximately $543m, which was accelerated due to the expected shut down of the Nextel platform. However, it saw a one-off gain of $170m due to the termination of its spectrum hosting contract with LightSquared.

The company posted wireless service revenues of $7.2bn during the quarter, an increase of more than seven percent year-over-year, and reported its best ever postpaid ARPU increase for the Sprint platform – which stood at $4.03, or 6.9 percent, year-on-year.

“The continuing revenue growth on the Sprint platform, which represents the future of our company, driven by record ARPU improvement and strong net subscriber growth, contributed to our adjusted operating income/(loss) before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) performance of $1.2bn,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO.

UAE-based Etisalat saw its first-quarter revenues increase by two per cent year-on-year to reach AED8.204bn ($2.23bn). Net profit declined by 0.5 per cent, however, to AED1.809bn. The rise in sales was due to an increase in revenue from international operations, which more than offset the decline in revenues from domestic operations.

The firm’s international revenues increased by 21.3 per cent in 1Q12 to AED2.275bn. Meanwhile domestic revenues decreased by 2.64 per cent to AED6.085bn, reflecting a competitive environment in the UAE market.

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