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    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon iPhone sales dash hopes; shares fall

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    Verizon iPhone sales dash hopes; shares fall

    Fri, Jul 22 19:05 PM EDT

    By Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications may have the iPhone, but the blockbuster smartphone has yet to pay off in its battle against AT&T Inc.

    In the second quarter, Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. mobile service, signed up 1.3 million fewer iPhone customers than AT&T, dashing high hopes of investors who sent its shares down almost 3 percent.

    On top of this, Verizon Wireless customers spent less per month than expected as the company changed its data service price plans, further disappointing Wall Street on Friday.

    While Verizon Wireless added three times more net subscribers in the quarter than AT&T, it only activated 2.3 million Apple Inc iPhones compared with 3.6 million activations at AT&T.

    "AT&T has done a much better job of hanging on to iPhone customers than anybody expected," said Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

    There was simply not enough good news in the report to justify Verizon's richer valuation than AT&T's, said Chaplin, who said Verizon shares have been trading at about 14 times 2012 earnings estimates compared with AT&T's 12 multiple.

    Verizon Wireless' 1.9 percent growth in average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) was well behind Chaplin's expectation for 2.9 percent.

    "Without the share gain in the smartphone category driving the ARPU, which would drive earnings per share growth, it's difficult to get enthusiastic about the (Verizon) shares at this valuation," Chaplin said.

    AT&T may leapfrog Verizon Wireless and become the top U.S. mobile service next year if regulators approve its plan to buy Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile USA.


    And while the subscriber numbers were strong on the surface "they were the wrong kind of subscribers," Chaplin said. Subscribers using devices such as the iPhone spend more on data services on a monthly basis than other wireless customers.

    Verizon Wireless said it would now take it a quarter longer than expected to increase its smartphone user base to 50 percent of is subscribers. It blamed the delay on the launch of the next iPhone a quarter later than it had expected. Verizon said it now expects to sell the next version of iPhone in the autumn.

    Still, Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon and Vodafone Group Plc, added 1.3 million net subscribers in the quarter compared with the average expectation for about 930,000, according to seven analysts contacted by Reuters.

    Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King was impressed with Verizon's customer growth and its sale of 1.2 million high-speed wireless devices for the new 4G network it is building.

    While some investors had worried that the relatively expensive iPhone would hurt Verizon's profit margins, King said its wireless service margin of 45.4 percent was well ahead of his expectation for 43.9 percent.

    Verizon's quarterly profit was $1.61 billion, or 57 cents a share and was ahead of the average analyst estimate of 55 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Revenue rose 2.8 percent to $27.53 billion, ahead of Wall Street expectations for $27.42 billion.

    Also on Friday, Verizon named Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam as chief executive, starting August 1. McAdam, the former CEO of Verizon Wireless, is replacing Ivan Seidenberg, who will remain chairman. The move follows its succession plan announced late last year.

    Seidenberg has led Verizon since its inception in 2000 and before that he was CEO of Verizon's predecessor companies. The executive, who started out as a cable splicer's assistant at New York Telephone, has worked at the company for more than 40 years.

    Verizon shares were down $1.06 or 2.8 percent at $36.51 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after falling as much as 3 percent shortly after the market opened.

    (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Derek Caney and Phil Berlowitz)

    CNN - Authorities: Man accused in Norway terror attacks confesses

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    Authorities: Man accused in Norway terror attacks confesses

    The man accused of killing at least 93 people in Norway has said he carried out the bombing and mass shooting, authorities said Sunday, as an ashen-faced and openly weeping King Harald V led the nation in mourning.

    The suspect has not pleaded guilty, and said he acted alone with no accomplice, acting National Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim told reporters Sunday.

    A person wounded in the shootings on Utoya island died Sunday, Oslo University Hospital spokesman Jo Heldaas told CNN, adding one to the previous death toll of 92.

    Also on Sunday, police conducted an operation in the eastern Oslo area of Slettelokka in connection with the bombing, police spokesman Anders Frydenberg told CNN.

    The raid came as Norwegians gathered at a cathedral in the capital, just a few hundred meters from where the bomb exploded Friday, to mourn the victims of the attacks.

    Police have not identified the suspect, though local television and newspaper reports have identified the man in custody as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik.

    Attorney Geir Lippestad, who claimed to represent Breivik, told TV2 late Saturday that his client "is ready to explain himself" on Monday when it is anticipated he will make his first court appearance. Breivik believed the terrorist attacks were "horrible," but "in his head (they) were necessary," Lippestad said.

    CNN was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach Lippestad for comment.

    The revelation came as a 1,500-page manifesto purportedly written by Breivik surfaced.

    Norwegian authorities would not confirm that the man in their custody wrote the manifesto, saying it would be part of the investigation.

    "The manifesto was released on the same day the atrocities happened," Sponheim said.

    "It's also new to us. We will look into the details of the manifesto."

    The document, apparently compiled over a period of nine years, rants against Muslims and their growing presence in Europe, and calls for a European civil war to overthrow governments, end multiculturalism and execute "cultural Marxists."

    While they have arrested only one suspect, Sponheim said authorities have not ruled out the possibility that someone else was involved in the shooting at a political youth retreat on Utoya island. Statements from witnesses to the mass shooting "make it uncertain if it was more than one person," Sponheim said.

    At least four people have not been accounted following the shooting on Utoya island that left at least 86 people dead, and authorities are searching the waters for victims who may have drowned trying to escape the shooter.

    Authorities also are searching for bodies of victims in the bomb attack in downtown Oslo where an explosion badly damaged a number of government buildings as well as the majority Labour Party office.

    "We know that there are remains of bodies in the ruins of the buildings. And it's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and a very difficult search. There are body parts in the buildings," Sponheim said.

    Seven people have been confirmed dead from the bomb attack. Police said that the explosive was in a car.

    At least 97 people were wounded in the attacks -- 30 in the blast and 67 in the mass shooting, Sponheim said. The identities of the victims will be released once all the next-of-kin have been notified, he said.

    Police declined Sunday to confirm the hospital statement that one of the wounded died, making it unclear if there are now 96 wounded survivors.

    At the service Sunday, billed by the church as a "Mass for grief and hope," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the attacks "incomprehensible."

    "Soon, names and photographs will be released. The enormity of the evilness will surface in all its horror, and that will be a new test for us all," Stoltenberg said.

    "In the middle of all the tragedy, I am proud to live in a country that has managed to stand tall."

    Other new details emerged Saturday about the attacks.

    An employee at a Norwegian agricultural cooperative told CNN that the man identified in media reports as the suspect bought six tons of fertilizer from her company in May.

    Oddmy Estenstad, of Felleskjopet Agr, said she did not think the order was strange at the time because the suspect has a farm, but after Friday's explosion in Norway's capital, Oslo, she called police because she knew the material can be used to make bombs.

    "We are very shocked that this man was connected to our company," said Estenstad. "We are very sad about what happened."

    Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday offered his "fervent prayers for the victims and families, invoking God's peace upon the dead and divine consolation upon those who suffer."

    "At this time of national grief he prays that all Norwegians will be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict and to work together fearlessly in a shaping a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom from for coming generations," according to a statement released by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on behalf of the pope.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed U.S. solidarity with Norway.

    "The United States strongly condemns any kind of terrorism no matter where it comes from or who perpetuates it, and this tragedy strikes right at the heart of the soul of a peaceful people," she said in a statement.

    Together with Norway's king, queen and crown prince, Stoltenberg visited with victims' family members and survivors of the attacks at a hotel.

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