EchoStar 4Q Beams Despite Charge


With the exception of $690 million in charges related to its failed merger
with Hughes Electronics Corp.'s DirecTV Inc., EchoStar Communications Corp.
posted strong numbers for the fourth quarter of 2002, and it even made
market-share headway against its former satellite fiancée.

The Littleton, Colo.-based satellite provider posted a net loss of $716
million for the fourth quarter. Without the merger-termination charges,
EchoStar's loss rate would have improved, totaling $26 million compared with the
$43 million the satellite operator lost in the same quarter of 2001.

Revenue, meanwhile, totaled $1.32 billion for the quarter, up 15 percent from
the $1.15 billion posted in the same quarter in 2001.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization stood at $193
million for the quarter, up $22 million compared with $171 million in the final
quarter of 2001.

EchoStar also snagged 400,000 net new subscribers for the quarter, bringing
its yearly new subscriber count to 1.35 million.

But while the failed merger carried a financial penalty, it did produce one
small benefit for EchoStar: It narrowed DirecTV's subscriber market-share

EchoStar added 500,000 more subscribers in the year than its former merger
partner, finishing 2002 with 8.18 million, compared with 6.83 million at the end
of 2001. DirecTV's subscriber numbers didn't grow as much, as parent Hughes
focused attention on the merger. Its 2002 subscriber count hit 11.18 million, up
only 850,000 compared with its 10.33 million mark in 2001.