EarthLink Inc. is making headway in growing its broadband-Internet service,
but overall, the company saw disappointing fourth-quarter numbers, even as it
announced that it will lay off 25 percent of its work force.
The Atlanta-based Internet-service provider added 98,000 broadband
subscribers in the final quarter of 2002, bringing its high-speed-customer base
to 779,000. For 2003, EarthLink expects the broadband business to attract
300,000 new subscribers.
While broadband may be the focus of EarthLink's long-term business plan,
narrowband customers continue to dominate. The ISP added 59,000 dial-up
customers, bringing its narrowband total to a little more than 4 million.
With broadband and narrowband combined, EarthLink now claims more than 4.9
million customers, making it the third-largest ISP behind America Online Inc.
and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.
For the quarter, EarthLink's revenue grew to $347.9 million, up 6.3 percent
compared with the $327.2 million posted in the same quarter of 2001.
The company also narrowed its net loss to $32.9 million, or 24 cents per
share, down from $73.9 million (55 cents) in the fourth quarter of 2001. But
analysts had predicted the loss to total just 2 cents per share.
On Tuesday, EarthLink announced that it would hand out pink slips to 1,300
employees, equaling 25 percent of its work force of 5,100. The cuts -- along
with closing call centers in Dallas; Sacramento, Calif.; and Seattle and a
technical center in Pasadena, Calif. -- are aimed at reducing costs.
"Our plan to streamline our call-center operations will positively impact our
financial performance and help us to better compete in a rapidly changing
marketplace," EarthLink CEO Garry Betty said in a release.