Hughes Electronics – owner of America’s leading satellite broadcaster DirecTV – on Tuesday posted a $132.6 million fourth-quarter loss, a far cry from the $1.06 billion of profits made a year earlier.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the three-month period stood at $118.2m, down from $153.8m in Q4 2000, while revenues rose from $2.1bn to $2.3bn. Hughes said the economic chaos in Argentina had prompted a $29m charge, offsetting an improved operational performance in the quarter.

For the full year, the group lost $621.6m, compared with $813m earnings in 2000. EBITDA stood at $389.9m, falling from $594m, with revenues rising 13% to $8.3bn. DirecTV added 405,000 subscribers, ahead of expectations.

Speaking of the proposed takeover of Hughes by rival EchoStar – currently being scrutinised by regulators – president/ceo Jack Shaw said he was “confident” it would be completed, but added: “If not, I'm convinced that Hughes would be a strong company.”

News source: Financial Times