Nextel Partners posted a second-quarter profit of $71.9 million, after posting a loss in the year-earlier period, and raised its forecast...

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Nextel Partners posted a second-quarter profit of $71.9 million, after posting a loss in the year-earlier period, and raised its forecast for customer additions this year.

Sales at the Kirkland-based company, which sells Nextel-branded phones and service in small and midsize markets, rose 29.9 percent to $434.8 million.

Sales and profit topped analysts’ estimates, and the company expects to gain 25,000 more subscribers this year than its earlier forecast.

The results may help Chief Executive John Chapple improve his bargaining position as he seeks to force Sprint to buy his company. Nextel Communications owns 32 percent of the stock, and after the pending merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications is completed, Nextel Partners investors can make the new company buy the rest of the stock.

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The Sprint-Nextel combination probably will close this quarter. Nextel said this week that it may take at least four months to value Nextel Partners.

Nextel Partners had per-share profit of 23 cents in the latest quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a profit of 19 cents. Sales estimates averaged $421.4 million.

“They really hit on all cylinders,” said Jonathan Atkin, an analyst at Toronto-based RBC Capital Markets. “They raised guidance, which isn’t atypical for them, but certainly a promising sign.” Atkin has an “outperform” rating on Nextel Partners shares and doesn’t own any.

Nextel Partners, which sells mainly to business customers with five to 50 employees, expects 400,000 new subscribers this year, up from a previous projection of 375,000. Customer turnover will be no higher than 1.5 percent in the remaining quarters, rather than 1.6 percent, as previously expected.

The company added a record 103,300 subscribers in the second quarter.

Nextel Partners’

results

Dollar figures in thousands, except per share; parentheses denote losses.
June 30 %
2nd QTR 2005 2004 CHG
Profit $71,885 ($20,498)
Per share 0.23 (0.08)
Revenue 434,822 334,640 +29.9
1st half 2005 2004 CHG
Profit $128,417 ($16,975)
Per share 0.42 (0.06)
Revenue 838,906 642,772 +30.5