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MCI WorldCom profit up on strong Net business

The telecommunications giant says strong Internet business drove its first-quarter profits up 72 percent, beating Wall Street expectations.

Telecommunications giant MCI WorldCom today said strong Internet business drove its first-quarter profits up 72 percent, beating Wall Street expectations.

The company said its first-quarter net income was $1.3 billion, or 44 cents a share, compared with $749 million last year. The results beat Wall Street expectations of 43 cents a share, according to a consensus estimate by First Call.

The company said sales rose 8.5 percent to $9.15 billion from $8.44 billion a year ago.

MCI WorldCom stock gained $3.88, or 9 percent, to $44.75 in midday trading.

The No. 2 U.S. long-distance company said data, Internet and international revenues grew 32 percent, or $1.1 billion, from the year-ago quarter to $4.6 billion and now account for 46 percent of MCI WorldCom's total revenues.

The first-quarter earnings come as good news for the company, which is currently under government scrutiny for its plan to buy long-distance carrier Sprint for $129 billion.