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AT&T Corp's third-quarter earnings rose 68 per cent, reflecting the positive effects of a massive cost cutting exercise and fast growing sales. Excluding one-time charges, profits increased to $1.81 billion from $1.08 billion this time last year, on revenues up 4.3 per cent to $13.65 billion from $13.09 billion. The telecomms giant shed over 18,000 jobs during the year and operating costs fell by 8.8 per cent to $10.34 billion. Sales, general and administrative costs declined by 15 per cent, and as a percentage of sales they were down to 24.4 per cent. Sales growth is up from the second quarter's one per cent, partly through a push into the $100 billion local phone market, and a host of new services for business and higher-margin consumer customers. Wireless services grew by an impressive 19 per cent while data services were up by 4.7 per cent. There were weak spots, including the consumer long-distance sector, where revenues fell 2.9 per cent to $5.81 billion, and AT&T said it was experiencing increased competition for domestic and international long-distance services. The company experienced strong growth across most of its business, including its consulting arm, AT&T Solutions, which increased revenues by 35 per cent to $273 million; and the online arm, AT&T WorldNet, increased revenues by 65 per cent to $100 million. ® Click for more stories

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