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Verizon Adds More Long-Distance Clients in 2001

January 10, 2002|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Verizon Communications, the No. 1 U.S. local telephone company, Wednesday said it ended 2001 with more long-distance customers, but wireless customer additions fell well short of analysts' expectations.

Verizon said it recorded about 7.4 million long-distance customers at the end of the year, 51% more than a year ago, and more than its target of 6.9 million.

Verizon is the nation's fourth-largest long-distance telephone company.

The company's long-distance business only comprises about 5% of its current total revenue but is considered to be one of the biggest growth drivers for Verizon.

The New York-based company also said it is in "no rush" to proceed with the initial public offering of Verizon Wireless, citing weakness in wireless stocks and the collapse of a deal for wireless licenses.

Shares of Verizon were off 92 cents at $48.88 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Patrick Comack, telecommunications analyst with Guzman & Co., blamed the stock's weakness on investor disappointment with the results at Verizon Wireless, its joint venture with Britain's Vodafone Group.

Verizon also ended the year with about 1.2 million digital subscriber line or data customers, which met its expectations and was more than double the customers of 2000.

Verizon said it continues to expect adjusted earnings per share of $3 to $3.03 for 2001, compared with $2.91 for 2000. Analysts on average were expecting $3.01, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.

The company still expects revenue growth of 4% to 5% from the $64.71 billion reported a year ago.

Verizon Wireless, the nation's No. 1 wireless firm, added only 715,000 new customers in the quarter, less than the 752,000 customers it added in the third quarter. This widely missed analysts' estimates which ranged from 900,000 to 1.1 million net new customers.

Verizon Wireless said it ended the year with 29.4 million customers, 6.9% more than a year ago.

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