Verizon Reaffirms Guidance, Shares Fall Anyway

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Verizon Communications

(VZ) - Get Report

still expects to meet its financial targets for 2001 and 2002, even as fellow telecom provider

SBC Communications

(SBC)

indicated

earlier today that earnings for next year would probably come in below expectations.

Verizon's shares fell $3.81, or 6.8%, to $52 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading. The target ranges the company provided include a low estimate that would be below analysts' current forecasts.

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For 2001, Verizon will target earnings per share growth of about 8%, with earnings ranging from $3.13 to $3.17 a share. For 2002, the company is targeting EPS growth of about 12%, with earnings ranging from $3.49 to $3.54 a share.

Verizon, which was formed earlier this year by the merger of

Bell Atlantic

and

GTE

, also reaffirmed its target range for fourth-quarter earnings of 76 cents to 78 cents a share.

Analysts expect Verizon to earn 78 cents a share in the fourth quarter and $2.91 for the year. Wall Street is looking for the company to earn $3.15 in 2001 and $3.61 in 2002, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

.