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TDS 2Q Net Falls 65%; US Cellular Earnings Drop 60%

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Telephone & Data Systems Inc.'s (TDS) third-quarter profit fell 65% as the company saw profit at its U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) business slump as well. TDS said in July that high unemployment levels have led some of its customers to cut back on telecom spending, and Fitch in late August said it was concerned about the company's ability to return to long-term growth because of a competitive environment in the weak economy. TDS reported earnings of $35.6 million, or 33 cents a share, down from $101.2 million, or 87 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell 4% to $1.26 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 43 cents on $1.25 billion in sales. TDS also said it had completed its repurchase of about $250 million in stock "well ahead of schedule," buying back about $73.9 million during the quarter. U.S. Cellular, which operates in 26 states, reported earnings of $35.6 million, or 41 cents a share, down from $89.9 million, or $1.02, a year earlier. Revenue fell 3% to $1.06 billion. Analysts had forecast earnings of 56 cents on revenue of $1.04 billion. Average monthly revenue per unit, a key measure for wireless companies, fell 2%. The company lost 24,000 net subscribers during the quarter, leaving its customer base at 6.13 million. Postpaid churn, or turnover rate, was 1.7%, up from 1.6% a year earlier. Shares of TDS and U.S. Cellular closed at $30.73 and $37.85, respectively, Wednesday and were inactive premarket. -By Nathan Becker, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2855; nathan.becker@dowjones.com;

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