A set of surprisingly good third-quarter numbers have failed to clear analysts' scepticism on China Unicom's code division multiple access (CDMA) operation. Analysts from major brokerages have not revised up full-year earnings projections after China Unicom's third-quarter data beat their expectations. Concern came from uncertainty over the accounting treatment of marketing costs associated with Unicom's CDMA promotion. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Jay Chang said full year revenue would exceed his 36.04 billion yuan (HK$33.77 billion) estimate. 'The third-quarter figures didn't ring any significant warning bells, but with no visibility on margins/profits . . . We still are erring on the cautious side towards 2002-03 profitability and the company's ability to generate above cost of capital returns,' Mr Chang said in his note to clients. Last Friday, China Unicom released key operational data for the nine months of this year. It added 10.44 billion yuan revenue in the third quarter to reach 28.43 billion yuan for the nine-month period. This compares with a full-year consensus of 38.64 billion yuan by Thomson Financial First Call. The surprise came from better-than-expected operating revenue from CDMA users which stood at 1.08 billion yuan for the July-September quarter, against 450 million yuan in the first half. 'CDMA revenues are likely to be overstated as they account for packages of airtime and handset sales as only airtime revenues . . . We believe that the reason why [the CDMA data] . . . were so strong was due to the creative nature of accounting,' ABN Amro analyst Joe Locke said.