NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As New York City begins to recover from widespread flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the storm may prove to be a pivotal test of the fast consolidating U.S. telecom sector.
As of Wednesday morning, Hurricane Sandy is reported to have hit the infrastructure of the nation's largest carriers. According to Reuters, the nation's leading carrier and New York-area powerhouse Verizon (VZ - Get Report), may have come out of the storm with the worst damage after flooding and power outages hit the company's offices in Lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island.
Competitor AT&T (T - Get Report) is also reported to have been impacted by the storm, in addition to recently acquired Sprint (S) and industry fourth player T-Mobile, which announced a merger with MetroPCS (PCS) earlier in October.
According to industry analysts, Sandy may have an immediate economic impact for the nation's largest carriers. Meanwhile, the industry was already braced for a pivotal six-to-12 months earnings test as the ramifications of consolidation on wireless service pricing becomes clearer and investors get more data on the interplay between profit margins and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone 5 subsidies. Sandy may also delay plans of some carriers to bolster the capacity of their networks as consumers flock to high-data-use smartphones like the iPhone, Google (GOOG - Get Report)-Android powered devices and Microsoft's (MSFT) recently launched Windows 8 ecosystem. Late on Tuesday, Evercore Partners telecom analysts led by Jonathan Schildkraut put out initial calculations on the impact of Sandy on telecoms, highlighting key earnings and service scenarios. Evercore Partners echoed media reports of flooding, power outages and service disruptions, while putting out an early estimate of the financial impact of Sandy for some carriers. "While it's still too early to determine how much the storm could impact the carriers financially, we do look at last year's storm, Irene, as a guide. Irene (in addition to Tropical Storm Leo) -- which notably impacted Verizon's total footprint - led to roughly a 5-cent impact to 2011 EPS and slower FiOS customer growth in