), BellSouth (BLS
) and Verizon (VZ
) to peer perform.
Analyst Robert Fagin says share appreciation in the next 12 months is more likely to be in line with the broader market's performance than ahead of market performance. Thus, he would be buyers of regional bells if they pull back significantly more than the S&P 500 index.
Fagin says regional bells still face significant risks: 1) a weakening economy, 2) a significant shift in access lines, 3) a slowdown in historical growth, and 4) industry consolidation. Additonally, Fagin thinks the pension impact in 2003 will significantly impact earnings. This, coupled with trying fundamentals, leads him to believe the Street's estimates for 2003 remain at risk.