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Merrill Downgrades Verizon Rating

Merrill Lynch downgraded Verizon Communications (VZ) to near-term neutral from strong buy, and long-term buy from strong buy.

Analyst Adam Quinton says Verizon says the economy continued to negatively impact operating results, and that first quarter year-over-year revenue growth was zero after about 4% year-over-year growth in 2001. Quinton cut his $69.8 billion 2002 revenue estimate to $68.4 billion and trimmed the $74.1 billion 2003 estimate to $71.5 billion. He also cut his 5.4% five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) estimate to 4.2%.

Moreover, Quinton trimmed the $30.5 billion 2002 EBITDA estimate to $29.9 billion, and reduced the $32 billion EBITDA 2003 estimate to $31.3 billion and cut the 4.6% five-year CAGR to 3.7%. He also cut the $3.22 2002 EPS estimate to $3.13, lowered the $3.35 2003 estimate to $3.30 and cut the 5.6% five-year CAGR to 5.1%.

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