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USSB narrows quarterly loss

U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, the No. 4 direct broadcast satellite company, posts a narrower fourth-quarter loss, besting Wall Street's estimates.

U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, the No. 4 direct broadcast satellite company, today posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss, besting Wall Street's estimates.

Excluding charges related to its merger with DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics, USSB reported a loss of $10.2 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $27.4 million, or 31 cents a share, for the year-ago period.

Financial analysts had expected the company to lose 22 cents a share, according to First Call.

Quarterly revenue rose to $144.7 million, up from $128.8 million for the same quarter last year.

The company said it took charges totaling $20.7 million, or 23 cents a share, because it terminated several contracts in preparation for its marriage with DirecTV. Including those one-time items, the DBS operator's net loss was $30.9 million, or 34 cents a share, for the period ended December 31.

USSB also announced a 1998 fiscal year net loss of $56.6 million, or 63 cents a share, on revenue of $550.8 million. Comparatively, the company posted a net loss of $87.3 million, or 97 cents per share, on revenue of $456.6 million during the 1997 fiscal year.

USSB said it added 99,000 customers in the quarter, bringing its total to slightly more than 2 million subscribers. Most of USSB's customers also subscribe to DirecTV through an existing relationship.