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AT&T Q4 Earnings Rise Despite Lower Revenue

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T Corp. closed out another rough year with a strong fourth quarter driven by aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring efforts, but the telephone company issued a dour forecast for the year ahead.

Earnings for the final three months of 2004 nearly doubled to $625 million, or 78 cents per share. In the same period in 2003, AT&T earned $340 million, 43 cents per share.

More than half of the latest profit came from a tax benefit related to last fall's huge writedown in the value of AT&T's long-distance phone network.

That network became a far less valuable asset after a series of regulatory defeats which prompted AT&T to halt all marketing and customer retention efforts for traditional local and long-distance phone service.

As a result of that retreat, the consumer customer base fell sharply again in the fourth quarter, sliding by about 2 million to a year-end total of 24 million.

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