Panamsat claims increased earnings, reduced debt in 2Q 2003

CONNECTICUT: Panamsat, which claims to be one of the world’s top three satellite operators managing a global fleet of 30 satellites, has reported its financial results for the second quarter and six months ended 30 June 2003.

In the second quarter, the company generated revenues of $203.6 million compared to $209.2 million in the second quarter of 2002; and increased earnings per share (EPS) to $0.20 versus $0.13 in the same period last year.

For the first six months of the year, total revenues were $403.3 million compared to $416.4 million in 2002 and EPS was $0.41 per share compared to $0.27 per share for the same period in 2002.

Business highlights of the second quarter of 2003 included:

- Solid financial results for the eighth consecutive quarter with growth in EPS of 54 per cent for the second quarter and 52 per cent for the first half of 2003 versus the same periods in 2002.

- The continued strong free cash flow enabled the pre-payment from cash on-hand of $350 million of the company's long-term debt on 14 July. This brought the total debt reduction in 2003 to $550 million with remaining cash and short-term investments of over $500 million and an unused credit line of an additional $250 million.

The company continued modernisation of the fleet with the launch of Galaxy XII. This is the first of a smaller, more versatile and robust set of C-band satellites that claims to provide excellent in-orbit protection; as well as support emerging technologies and video services - such as HDTV and expanded Homeland Security applications. The company claims that its fleet had one of the industry's top reliability records in 2002 with a rating of 99.99 per cent.

Speaking on the performance Panamsat president and CEO Joe Wright said: "We continue to reduce our cost base and, as a result, are able to record a meaningful increase in earnings and make a substantial pre-payment on our debt. All these actions position the company for continued future profitability today and even more so when the markets improve."

"Panamsat is performing well and continues to be as strong as it has ever been. In a weak market, we have had earnings increases every quarter. While our competitors keep adding more satellite capacity, we are taking the next step by combining the best aspects of satellite and fibre networks. While others are increasing debt, we are reducing ours. In addition, we are able to successfully manage challenges with our fleet resulting in no customer impact and minimal financial offset," Wright adds.

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