Bell Atlantic Corp. and American Telephone and Telegraph Co., two phone companies serving Maryland and surrounding states, both reported higher third-quarter profits yesterday.
Despite indications that the nation is slipping into a recession, the two companies also reported gains in the number of new phone-line hookups and the number of calls made by customers.
"Volumes in our telephone companies continued to grow in the quarter despite spotty weaknesses in our regional economy, demonstrating the overall strength of the services-based businesses in the mid-Atlantic region," Raymond W. Smith, Bell Atlantic chairman and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.
He added that revenues "also reflected continued growth in volumes in our non-telephone businesses, as well as the impact of acquisitions by our Bell Atlantic Business Systems Services and Bell Atlanticom units."
Bell Atlantic reported a 3.2 percent gain in the number of new hookups. The number of business access lines rose 5.1 percent in the quarter that ended Sept. 30.
Bell Atlantic, the Philadelphia-based parent of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland, said operating revenues for the quarter were up 6.5 percent, to $3.10 billion from $2.91 billion for the corresponding quarter a year ago.
For the first nine months of the year, total operating revenues were $9.19 billion, an increase of 7.4 percent over the $8.56 billion reported for the same period in 1989.
The company's Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems subsidiary picked up 81,600 customers over the past year, bringing the total to 236,500. The company noted, however, that customer usage and demand for service grew more slowly in September because of the sluggish economy.
"Overall, we are pleased with the quarter," said Philip A. Campbell, chief financial officer.
AT&T, the nation's largest telecommunications company, said its quarterly results reflected continued strength in its long-distance business and higher product sales, particularly in international markets. "These are solid results in the face of a softening economy," AT&T Chairman Robert E. Allen said in a prepared statement. "We're extremely pleased to see the progress of our investments and efforts to expand into international markets."