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Verizon Communications Inc. met most forecasts with a 10 percent gain in fourth-quarter profits. The nation's largest local phone company said it earned $1.91 billion, or 70 cents a share, in the final three months of 2000. In the same period a year earlier, Verizon posted a net profit of $1.74 billion, or 63 cents a share. Excluding one-time factors such as investment losses and merger expenses, Verizon's operating profits came to $2.1 billion, or 77 cents a share. In the year-ago period, operating profits were $2.1 billion, or 75 cents a share, if adjusted to include the results of the Vodafone wireless properties merged into Verizon Wireless last April. Fourth-quarter revenues totaled $16.87 billion, up from $15.27 billion from the same operations a year earlier.

Sprint Corp.'s FON Group, which includes businesses such as local and long-distance calling, Internet services and phone books, earned $97 million, or 11 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. That was down from $416 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period in 1999. But excluding one-time factors such as $238 million in costs from Sprint's failed merger with WorldCom, operating profits totaled $359 million or 41 cents per share. In the same period in 1999, operating profits were $417 million, or 47 cents a share. Revenues for the quarter were $4.39 billion, down slightly from $4.42 billion in the same period in 1999. Meanwhile, the wireless unit Sprint PCS lost $512 million, or 53 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, a 27 percent improvement from the mobile phone company's loss of $706 million, 75 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Fourth-quarter wireless revenues nearly doubled to $1.94 billion from a year-earlier level of $1.06 billion.

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