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Earnings: Verizon, Tyson

Earnings: Verizon | Tyson

Verizon Profit Dips, But Still Nips Views

NEW YORK - AP - Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) said Monday its fourth-quarter profit fell due to taxes on the sale of assets and costs related to a spinoff, but the results surpassed Wall Street estimates as the telephone company's cellular business added 2.3 million customers.

For the final three months of 2006, Verizon earned $1.03 billion, or 35 cents per share, down from $1.66 billion, or 59 cents per share, in the fourth quarter 2005.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $22.60 billion, a 26.1 percent increase compared with $17.93 billion in the same period in 2005.

The latest quarterly profit reflected a charge of $541 million, or 19 cents per share, for taxes owed due to the sale of Verizon operations in the Dominican Republic. It also included 8 cents worth of costs related to the spinoff of the company's phone book and online directories business, as well as severance, pension, merger integration and headquarters relocation expenses.

Excluding those charges, Verizon earned 62 cents per share in the just-ended quarter, edging past the average forecast of 61 cents among industry analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Verizon Wireless blew past numerous forecasts once again, though for the first time in many quarters, the company's rapid customer growth was not enough to narrow the gap behind AT&T Inc.'s cell phone business, the biggest U.S. carrier by subscribers. Verizon's net gain of 2.3 million customers, at least 100,000 more than many analysts expected, left it with 59.1 million at the end of 2006. AT&T, (T) formerly named Cingular Wireless, reported last week a net gain of 2.4 million customers during the holiday quarter, ending the year with nearly 61 million.

But Verizon Wireless, owned jointly with Vodafone Group PLC, continued to outperform its rivals on other fronts. Revenue grew 16.3 percent to a market-leading $10.10 billion compared with $8.69 billion a year earlier. And the "churn" rate, measuring the number of subscribers switching to rivals, came in lower than many forecasts, averaging 1.14 percent of the customer base per month.

Verizon shares fell 39 cents to $37.44 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Tyson Turns Profit, Beats Expecations

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN), the largest U.S. meat company, Monday reported a quarterly profit after three straight losses as a cost-cutting program resulted in earnings that beat Wall Street estimates by a large margin and sent shares higher in pre-market trading.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects a profitable second quarter, but warned that the higher price for corn, an important feed, will lead to higher food prices for consumers.

"Our immediate goal was to return to profitability, and I am pleased to say we have accomplished our objective," Chief Executive Officer Richard Bond said in a statement. Tyson launched a cost-cutting program last year.

For the first quarter ended Dec. 30, Tyson reported earnings of $57 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $39 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier.

Wall Street analysts on average expected 6 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

In pre-market trading, Tyson stock was up 31 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $17.00 per share.

Revenue for the period was $6.56 billion, up from $6.45 billion a year ago.

"All of our segments showed substantial improvement over the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006," said Bond.

Tyson bills itself the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork. The chicken and pork segments posted operating profits for the quarter, while beef had a loss.

Last year the company laid off workers, closed meat plants, and reduced chicken production as it worked to return to profitability.

"We remain on track to meet our earnings guidance for the year, but emphasize the dramatic rise in corn prices has become a major issue for us and others in the food industry. Companies will be forced to pass along rising costs to their customers, meaning consumers will pay significantly more for food," said Bond.

Corn prices have sped higher since late 2006 due to increased demand from producers of the biofuel ethanol.

The company reaffirmed its prior forecast for fiscal year 2007 of 50 to 80 cents per share.

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