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TDS, US Cellular 2Q Profit Decline More Than Expected

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Second-quarter earnings at Telephone & Data Systems Inc. (TDS) and its U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) business declined, while U.S. Cellular lost fewer overall subscribers than it did a year earlier. Earnings for both companies missed analysts' expectations, and U.S. Cellular also lowered its guidance for full-year service revenue to $3.93 billion to $4 billion from $3.98 billion to $4.08 billion. TDS President and Chief Executive LeRoy T. Carlson Jr. said the company's results "reflect the intense wireless and wireline competition and the ongoing consumer and business economic uncertainty." Subscribers have left U.S. Cellular recently amid intense competition in the wireless industry. Big carriers have continued adding subscribers, and low-cost prepaid carriers are booming. U.S. Cellular in May tapped Mary Dillon, formerly the global marketing chief of McDonald's Corp. (MCD), to lead the company as its new chief executive. TDS reported a profit of $40.3 million, or 38 cents a share, down from $66.4 million, or 60 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell 0.8% to $1.23 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 49 cents on $1.25 billion in revenue. The company's physical access lines fell 4.2% from a year earlier and 1% from the prior quarter. Meanwhile, U.S. Cellular posted a profit of $40.8 million, or 47 cents a share, down from $81.8 million, or 94 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell 1.2% to $1.03 billion. Analysts most recently forecast earnings of 68 cents on $1.04 billion in revenue. The carrier, which operates in 26 states, lost 3,000 net subscribers, breaking a two-quarter streak of subscriber growth. The company lost 88,000 net subscribers a year earlier. It added 7,000 retail subscribers, compared with a loss of 59,000 net retail customers a year earlier. Retail average revenue per user fell by a penny to $46.81, and retail postpaid churn was flat at 1.4%. TDS said on Wednesday that one of its subsidiaries received government approval for broadband expansion in 18 states. The company will receive $85.9 million in federal grants in order to help complete the expansion. Shares of TDS and U.S. Cellular closed at $34.38 and $46.59, respectively, on Wednesday and were inactive premarket. -By Nathan Becker, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2855;

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