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Qwest promises good fiscal health in fourth quarter

To quell investors' fears in the face of a plunging stock market, the broadband company says it expects to meet or beat analysts' estimates for its fourth-quarter earnings because of strong demand.

Qwest
Stock price from December 1999 to present.  
Source: Prophet Finance
In an effort to quell investors' fears in the face of a plunging stock market, Qwest Communications International said Thursday that it expects to meet or beat analysts' estimates for its fourth-quarter earnings because of strong demand for its products and services.

The Denver-based broadband communications company said it made the announcement because of the market's turmoil and recent quarterly results from technology companies that failed to meet Wall Street estimates.

On Wednesday, the company's stock closed down $5.25, or 14 percent, at $32.38, marking a new 52-week low. The price was way below its 52-week high of $69.43.

"Qwest believes it is not having the same problems announced by several competitors because Qwest has newer assets, a lower cost position and a product line targeted to capitalize on the high-growth sectors of the industry," Qwest chief executive Joseph Nacchio said in a statement.

The company did not give a specific earnings-per-share figure for the fourth quarter, but First Call/Thomson Financial analysts have estimated a per-share price of 14 cents.

This wouldn't be the first time the company has beaten analysts' estimates in the face of market decline. In October, Qwest reported net income for the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, of $231 million, or 14 cents a share, beating First Call's estimates of 9 cents a share.

For 2000, earnings before revenue, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is expected to be about $7.8 billion, while EBITDA for 2001 is estimated to be in the range of $8.5 billion to $8.7 billion.

For revenue in 2001, Qwest said it is looking at the range of $21.3 billion to $21.7 billion.

The company said it expects to meet its 2000 year-end targets of 250,000 DSL subscribers and 800,000 wireless subscribers and to double its subscriber numbers in 2001.

"Demand for our products and services remains robust, and we continue to see our market share and revenues grow in key segments of the markets, such as DSL, wireless, Web hosting and broadband Internet services," said Nacchio.