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Brightpoint profit up despite declining revenue

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Wireless device distributor Brightpoint Inc. saw revenue decline in the fourth quarter, but the Indianapolis-based company still managed to bounce back from a $346 million year-ago loss with an $18.3 million quarterly profit.

Fourth-quarter revenue declined 6 percent, to $905.6 million, the company said Wednesday evening.

For the year, revenue was $3.2 billion, down from $4.4 billion in 2008. Profit for 2009 was $26.6 million, better than the $341.7 million loss reported the previous year.

The company set out to improve its balance sheet in 2009, implementing an expense-reduction and cost-avoidance plan that aimed at saving up to $45 million. It also lowered inventories, tightened the credit terms it extended customers, and became more disciplined in how it invested its money—moves that freed up more cash to chop away debt.

Something worked. Total debt was $97 million as of Dec. 31, 2009, compared to $176.4 million at the end of 2008. Brightpoint’s average daily debt was $167.7 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $333 million in the same period the previous year.

"I am pleased with our financial performance for the fourth quarter of 2009, and I am particularly proud of the success we had with respect to managing our balance sheet during these turbulent economic times," Chief Financial Officer Tony Boor said in a prepared statement. “This improvement in liquidity allowed us to pay down debt and to capitalize on strategic opportunities, including the purchase of our primary North America distribution facility and the repurchase of over 3 million shares of Brightpoint common stock."

All told, the company said it handled 84 million wireless devices during 2009, an increase of 1 percent despite a 6 percent to 8 percent decline in the number of devices sold worldwide.

"I am proud of the Brightpoint team's performance in many areas despite a challenging global economic climate," CEO Robert J. Laikin said in a statement. "I believe Brightpoint remains well positioned to take advantage of wireless industry trends.”

Brightpoint employs about 2,700 employees in more than 25 countries, providing global distribution and customized services to more than 25,000 customers.

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