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Harris, American Tower Report Latest Earnings

American Tower and Harris Corporation reported earnings this week. Both showed an increase in revenue over last year.

American Tower does not break out revenue from broadcast towers in its second quarter and first half 2010 financial results but if there were any drop in broadcast revenue due to the analog shutdown, it was more than offset by increased revenue in other segments. Overall, operating income increased by 16 percent and rental and management segment revenue increased 12.2 percent.

American Tower now owns 432 broadcast sites, with 233 in the United States and another 199 in Mexico. This is an increase of one from the previous quarter. The number of wireless sites increased to 27,402. Most are in the United States; however there are 2,616 are in Mexico, 1,640 in Brazil, 115 in Chile and 2,871 in India. American Tower owns 199 distributed antenna systems in the United States. Distributed antenna systems could become important for broadcasters wanting to get Mobile DTV signals deep inside buildings, shopping malls and sports arenas.

Harris Corporation saw significantly higher order, revenue and income in the last quarter of its fiscal year and increased its guidance for fiscal 2011. GAAP income increased from $312 in fiscal year 2009 to $562 million in fiscal year 2010, which ended July 2. The only major segment showing a loss was Broadcast Communications. That segment lost $21 million in 4Q2010, including $7 million in cost-reduction actions and $6 million in inventory write-downs associated with weaker demand. Revenue dropped from $583.6 million in FY2009 to $486.2 million in FY2010.

Considering all of the spending prior to June 2010 for the DTV transition, this drop isn't surprising. Harris reduced its losses from continuing Broadcast Communications segment operations to $30.9 million in FY2010 from a loss of $238 million the previous year.

And it looks as if more cuts may be coming in the broadcast segment. The company observed that its Broadcast Communications division's operating results "reflected the continuing market weakness" in the U.S. broadcast sector and also "increased investment to address new media and international growth opportunities." Harris said that it was planning more "cost-reduction actions" in fiscal 2011, and that these are expected to result in additional charges of some $7 million.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.