US Sprint Communications, the nation’s third-largest long-distance telephone company, offered evidence Tuesday that it is starting to turn the corner.
The company reported a much narrowed pretax loss of $19 million for the third quarter, compared to a $165-million loss in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue was up 15% to $916 million.
Sprint attributed its improvement to increased business and lower operating costs now that calls are going through its new fiber-optic telephone network. The company has also corrected customer billing problems that have plagued it since it was formed in July, 1986, as a 50-50 partnership between United Telecommunications and GTE Corp.
“We’ve eliminated duplicative network costs and we’ve attracted large corporate users and other new business with superior network quality,” said US Sprint President William T. Esrey. He added that the improvement will “be sustained in the coming months.”
The news from Sprint was welcome, in particular for United Telecommunications, which has agreed to acquire majority control in the long-distance company in January by buying part of GTE’s stake.
United Telecom, which like US Sprint is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., reported that revenue from its other businesses--mainly local phone operations in parts of California, Nevada and across the Sun Belt--rose 7% to $805.8 million for its third quarter.
Its profit for the quarter was $53.2 million, more than double the $23.3 million a year earlier.
United Telecom has operated US Sprint, which has never turned a profit, on its own since mid-July. At that time, United Telecom agreed to increase its stake in Sprint to 80.1% and gained an option to buy the rest by 1996. United Telecom sold its mobile phone and paging businesses earlier this month to Centel Corp. to pay for its increased investment in Sprint.