Inmarsat shares surge on earnings

City A.M. Reporter
SATELLITE communications firm&nbsp; Inmarsat posted a better-than-expected 18.4 per cent rise in third-quarter earnings yesterday, and said it was on track for the year, sending its shares to a four-year high.<br /><br />The company, whose satellites provide phone and broadband services to ships, aircraft and remote locations worldwide, posted earnings of $133mn, helped by cost controls. Revenue in the three months to end-September rose 8.7 per cent to $176.7m, the firm said, reflecting strong demand in the aeronautical sector and maritime broadband services.<br /><br />Chairman and chief executive Andrew Sukawaty said: &ldquo;We are continuing to achieve growth in all our MSS (mobile satellite services) markets despite the economic downturn. We are well positioned to deliver on our targets for the full year.&rdquo;<br /><br />Investec analyst Jonathan Groocock, who rates the stock a &ldquo;buy&rdquo;, said tight cost control had helped the firm beat earnings estimates, while reduced capital spending had boosted free cash flow -- up 90.6 per cent year-on-year.&ldquo;Excellent set of figures, they&rsquo;ve completely blown away consensus earnings in the quarter,&rdquo; he said. Analysts expect the firm to post a 5.2 per cent rise in full-year revenue of $1.05bn