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    From CBS Marketwatch

    An increase in subscribers and improved cash flow helped Hughes Electronics Corp. cut first-quarter losses by nearly 94 percent, as sales outpaced most estimates on Wall Street.
    Hughes Electronics (GMH: news, chart, profile), which operates the DirecTV satellite broadcaster, lost $50.9 million compared to a loss of $837.7 million during the same time period a year earlier. Hughes trades as a tracking stock of General Motors (GM: news, chart, profile), and doesn't report per share figures.

    The unit reported pretax cash flow of $305 million on a margin of 13.7 percent compared to $164.5 million on a 8.1 percent margin for the same quarter in 2002. Revenue rose 10 percent to $2.2 billion.

    The results beat Wall Street expectations of $208.5 million in cash flow and $2.1 billion in revenue, according to Multex.

    Hughes, which last week inked a deal to sell a 34 percent stake to News Corp. (NWS: news, chart, profile), said it added 275,000 subscribers to end the first quarter with 11.42 million subscribers. The unit also lowered its "churn" rate -- the number of subscribers it lost -- for the quarter to 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.

    "The EBITDA numbers came in much better than expected," said analyst Thom Watts, of SG Cowen. "The subscriber numbers were better and the churn was much lower."
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