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Crown reports increased net loss, higher revenues

HOUSTON-Crown Castle International Corp. closely followed competitor American Tower in releasing its fourth-quarter 2003 results.

Crown reported revenue for the fourth quarter of $214 million, up from $179.3 million during the same quarter in 2002. Revenue for the full year 2003 was $786.8 million, also improved from 2002’s $677.8 million.

Net loss, however, was well up, partially due to losses from the retirement of debt and preferred securities. Including $122.8 million put toward paying off those debts, net loss for the fourth quarter was $171.4 million, compared with net loss of $34.9 million for the previous year’s fourth quarter, which Crown said included a $49.1 million of gains from the retirement of debt. Per-share net loss for the fourth quarter was 83 cents, compared with 2 cents last year. Net loss for the full year was $420.9 million, compared with $272.5 million for 2002.

Free cash flow, which Crown defines as “net cash from operating activities less capital expenditures,” was $92.3 million for the fourth quarter. For the full year 2003, free cash flow was $141.1 million, improved vastly from negative free cash flow (or use of cash) of $68.3 million for 2002.

Crown raised its financial guidance for the full year 2004 and now expects to report between $860 million and $870 million in revenues and free cash flow between $145 million and $160 million.

The company was trading up at $12.58 per share following the release of the news Thursday.

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