The rebound in the economy and communications networking is bringing more business to CommScope.

CommScope (NYSE:CTV) narrowed its fourth-quarter loss as the company reported a sales increase of 13 percent on demand for its wireless products and fiber-optic cable.

The Hickory-based firm reports a net loss of $962,000, or 2 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $3.5 million, or 6 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.

Shares of CTV were off 5 cents to $18.74 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange on higher than average volume.

CommScope had sales of $153.8 million, up from $135.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2002. Operating income was $781,000, up from $773,000 a year earlier.

For 2003, the company posted a net loss of $54.3 million, or 92 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $67.2 million, or $1.10 per diluted share, in 2002. Sales were $573.3 million, down from $598.5 million in 2002.

CommScope had an operating loss of $8.6 million last year, compared with a loss of $15.4 million in 2002.

The quarter’s results included an after-tax charge of 8 cents per share from CommScope’s interest in OFS BrightWave, an optical-fiber and fiber-cable venture with Furukawa Electric Co. of Japan.

CommScope says it expects $25 million in acquisition-related charges in 2004…mostly in the first and second quarter…on the connectivity solutions business it bought from Avaya on Jan. 31.

As a result, the company projects post first-quarter sales of $225 million to $240 million, including an expected $95 million to $100 million from its acquired connectivity business.

“We are pleased to have ended 2003 with stronger sales as we begin a new chapter in the history of CommScope,” said Chairman and CEO Frank Drendel. “We believe that we are strategically positioned for exciting opportunities through Systimax Solutions, our new enterprise connectivity business, and through CommScope Carrier Solutions, our new business that provides cabinets, cables and apparatus to telecom service providers.”

CommScope: www.commscope.com