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Global Crossing tops 4Q estimate, reports loss

    Global network builder Global Crossing Ltd. (Nasdaq: GBLX) said Friday it lost 20 cents a share in its fourth quarter, reversing last year's profit, but topping First Call's expected loss of 22 cents a share.

    Shares in the company, which provides global internet and long distance telecommunications over a network of undersea digital fiber optic cable systems, closed at 61 1/16 Thursday.

    The stock started a steady climb in September, after it won Frontier from rival Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q) after a prolonged bidding war. In December, the stock stepped up its growth after the company added former AT&T (NYSE: T) executive Leo Hindery, and said it was considering a tracking stock for its GlobalCenter Internet services operation.

    Fourth-quarter revenue was $1.1 billion, recurring adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $325 million with a recurring loss of $152 million. In the same quarter a year ago, the company reported revenue of $203 million, recurring adjusted EBITDA of $168 million, and recurring income of $52 million.

    Recurring fourth-quarter loss of 20 cents a share compared to a profit of 12 cents a share in 1998's comparable quarter.

    For the full year, net loss was $250 million, or a loss of 50 cents a share, compared to a profit of $59 million, or 16 cents a share in 1998. The year's revenue was $1.7 billion, up from $420 million on sthe strong demand for broadband service, the company said. Recurring adjusted EBITDA was $716 million.

    Pro forma results including the acquisitions of Frontier Corporation, Global Marine Systems and Racal Telecom, showed revenue up 15 percent from the previous quarter, and recurring adjusted EBITDA was up 22 percent.

    Over the past year, while completing these three major acquisitions, the company also formed two joint ventures. The formation of the Asia Global Crossing (AGC) partnership with Microsoft and Softbank will develop the company's broadband systems throughout Asia. Softbank will be a major investor in ZDNet. Hutchison Global Crossing, a $1.2 billion joint venture with Hutchison Whampoa, provides Global Crossing with a network in Hong Kong and will assure entry into greater China when regulations permit.

    Performance highlights for the year include the doubling of Global Crossing's GlobalCenter customers, which also doubled its complex web-hosting business. The company also reported growth in its incumbent local exchange carrier services, carrier services, and an unrecognized backlog at over $2 billion from customers such as including Exodus (Nasdaq: EXDS), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Level 3 (Nasdaq: LVLT) and MCI Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM).