Cingular Wireless, the nation’s largest cell phone provider, reported a 56% jump in third-quarter profit on solid growth in subscribers and revenue. The Atlanta-based joint venture of BellSouth Corp. (BLS) and SBC Communications Inc. (SBC) said Wednesday it earned $222 million in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to a profit of $142 million in the same period a year ago. The year-ago figure assumes Cingular and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. were a single company then, although their $41 billion deal was not completed until October 2004.
Excluding merger integration and hurricane-related costs, Cingular said it earned $504 million in the quarter. Revenue in the third quarter was $8.75 billion, compared to $4.29 billion a year ago. The prior-year revenue figure includes only Cingular’s sales.
“Next Wednesday marks the first anniversary of Cingular’s life as the largest wireless company in the United States, and our third-quarter results show once again that we are making solid progress delivering on the promise of the merger,” said Stan Sigman, Cingular’s president and chief executive officer.
Cingular said it added 867,000 net subscribers in the quarter, raising its total to 52.3 million.
Average monthly revenue per user in the quarter was $49.65, down 1.2% from $50.25 a year ago. Average monthly churn – the rate at which customers switch to other providers – was 2.3% in the quarter, compared with 2.8% for the same period a year ago.
For the first nine months of the year, Cingular said it earned $129 million, compared to a profit of $696 million in the same period a year ago. Nine-month revenue was $25.58 billion, compared to $12.45 billion a year ago.