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Dobson down on 4Q news

OKLAHOMA CITY-Dobson Communications Corp. nearly doubled its total revenues during the fourth quarter from $130.7 million in 2002 to $250.3 million last year and posted a 42-percent increase in full-year revenues from $516.8 million in 2002 to $735.8 million last year.

Despite the increased revenues, Dobson’s quarterly net income dropped from $25.5 million during the fourth quarter of 2002, a return of 28 cents per share, to a loss of $70.3 million last year, a loss of 53 cents per share, but increased for the full year from a loss of $190.6 million in 2002, a loss of $2.10 per share, to a return of $151 million last year, or a return of $1.38 per share.

Dobson added that fourth-quarter 2003 net losses included a $24.2 million loss from the cancellation of debt related to the termination of its Dobson/Sygnet Communications notes and credit facility; a $26.8 million loss related to the repurchase of preferred stock; $12.7 million in cash and non-cash dividends on redeemable preferred stock; a $595,100 loss from discontinued operations; a $12.7 million loss on disposal of discontinued operations related to its pending swap of wireless properties with Cingular Wireless L.L.C; and $1.9 million in dividends on preferred stock.

The carrier also noted lower-than-expected roaming revenue from AT&T Wireless Services Inc., which is Dobson’s largest roaming partner, contributed to the revenue shortfall during the fourth quarter. Analysts expressed concern over Dobson’s results with Bear Stearns downgrading its rating on Dobson from “outperform” to “peer perform,” propelling Dobson’s stock down more than 35 percent in early Wednesday trading to $4.35 per share.

Dobson had previously reported it added 14,400 net customers during the fourth quarter compared with 19,700 subscriber additions during the fourth quarter of 2002, and that it removed 4,900 customers from its customer following the acquisition and recount of markets.

Dobson also reported the completion of the market swap with Cingular that exchanged Dobson’s Maryland Rural Service Area 2 for Cingular’s Michigan RSA 5. In addition to the swap, Cingular paid Dobson $22 million and transferred its 1-percent ownership interest in Texas RSA 2 and Oklahoma RSAs 5 and 7 to Dobson, which is the majority owner of the three markets.

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