Earnings preview: AT&T, Verizon set to hold steady

Analysts expect AT&T and Verizon Communications to report strong earnings in the days ahead, but are warning that struggling wireless carrier Sprint Nextel may post a loss of revenue and net subscribers. The weak economy may impact wireless postpaid subscribers across the board, but in total, prognosticators predict AT&T and Verizon will perform better than Wall Street expectations. Here's the breakdown:

AT&T reports earnings tomorrow. Wall Street expects the parent of the nation's No. 2 wireless carrier to report revenue of around $31.1 billion, up slightly from $30.74 billion in the year-ago period. Subscriber additions due solely to the draw of Apple's iPhone are likely to be down from the fourth quarter, according to analysts, and excitement is set to build during the summer when a new model is rumored to launch. Most analysts expect AT&T Mobility to add under a million net new postpaid subscribers for the quarter, most likely between 700,000 and 800,000.

Sprint has been beset by problems, and though it is likely to see an uptick in subscribers thanks to its Boost Mobile prepaid unit, most analysts are still expecting a net subscriber loss for the quarter. Sprint is seen posting revenue of $8.28 billion, down from $9.33 billion in the year-ago quarter. Though Boost's $50 per month unlimited talk, text and web surfing plan has drawn in customers, analysts expect Sprint to report a net subscriber loss of around 1.2 million for the quarter, down slightly from its 1.3 million net subscriber loss in the fourth quarter. Sprint reports earnings May 4.    

Verizon may have held steady despite the weak macroeconomic picture, according to forecasts. Analysts expect Verizon to report revenue of around $26.21 billion, up from $23.58 billion, and predict the carrier's wireless performance and gross margins to also do well. The company reports its earnings April 27.

For more:
- see this WSJ earnings preview (sub. req.)
- see this AP article
- see this AT&T preview
- see this TheStreet.com article

Related Articles:
Verizon Wireless has 1.4M net adds in Q4
Sprint Nextel loses 1.3M subs in fourth quarter
AT&T adds 2.1M subs; wireless revenue up
AT&T sells 2.4M iPhone 3Gs in 3Q, but margins suffer
AT&T adds 1.3M subs; wireless data revenue surges