EARNINGS : AT&T;'s Third-Quarter Profit Climbs 12%

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

AT&T;'s third-quarter profit rose 12% before special charges to cover costs for planned job cuts, the company said Thursday. Its core long-distance business showed steady growth, though probably not enough to prevent erosion of market share.

The company's bottom line was diminished by an expected charge for restructuring its computer manufacturing business, which includes the elimination of 8,500 jobs. The charge amounted to $1.6 billion before taxes and reduced AT&T;'s profit by $1.1 billion.

AT&T; said further charges are possible as it breaks into three companies next year in a strategic change that shocked the industry when it was announced Sept. 20.

For the quarter, AT&T; earned $262 million, or 16 cents per share. In the same period last year, the company earned $1.05 billion, or 67 cents per share, including a $230-million charge for its acquisition of McCaw Cellular.

Revenue totaled $19.70 billion, up 6% from $18.65 billion a year ago.

Excluding all the charges, AT&T;'s third-quarter profit was $1.43 billion, or 90 cents a share, up from $1.28 billion, or 82 cents per share, in the same three months last year.

Strong sales of air conditioners and school clothes helped boost third-quarter income from continuing operations at Sears Roebuck by 19%, the nation's second-largest retailer said Thursday.

Sears had net income of $228 million, or 56 cents per share, from continuing operations for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $192 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year. Revenue rose 6%, to $8.4 billion from $7.9 million, Sears said.

H.F. Ahmanson reported third-quarter net income of $273 million, or $2.03 per share, compared to $68.5 million, or 47 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. However, excluding certain charges and an after-tax gain from the sale of its New York branch system, the Irwindale-based parent of Home Savings of America earned $65.6 million, or 44 cents per share, in the latest quarter.

Great Western Financial this week reported that third-quarter profit rose to $68.5 million, or 45 cents per share, from $57.2 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The Chatsworth-based parent of Great Western Bank cited declining interest rates and continued cost cutting.

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