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Verizon Says Strike and Boycott Push Aren’t Hurting—Yet

A striking CWA member pickets in front of Verizon Communications Inc. corporate offices in New York CityA striking CWA member pickets in front of Verizon Communications Inc. corporate offices in New York City
A member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) pickets in front of Verizon Communications Inc. corporate offices during a strike in New York City, April 13, 2016. Photograph by Brendan McDermid — Reuters

How’s Verizon weathering the week-long walkout of some 40,000 of its workers, including most of its telephone and Internet service installers? Any impact from the strikers picketing outside Verizon Wireless stores and urging customers to boycott the company?

So far, the telecommunications giant is feeling no financial pain, according to chief financial officer Fran Shammo.

“Right now, really no financial impact per se in the second quarter that I’m anticipating unless this drags on for a much longer period of time,” Shammo said on a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Thursday after Verizon reported its first quarter results.

Shammo also said he was “absolutely confident at this point in time” that Verizon would reach its target for profits per share for the year of $3.99. Still, he conceded it might be “too early” to see any impacts from the strike yet.

That was a clearer analysis than Verizon’s first quarter results press release issued earlier on Thursday, which said the company’s profits might take an unspecified hit from the strike. “Given the status of labor contract negotiations, there will be pressure on second-quarter earnings due to the timing of cost reductions,” the press release said.

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Shares of Verizon (VZ) lost 2% in morning trading on Thursday, after it reported first quarter revenue of $32.2 billion, slightly below what Wall Street expected. Earnings per share of $1.06 for the quarter met expectations and, as noted, the company reaffirmed its prior full year forecast of $3.99 per share.

There has been no indication how long the strike might last from representatives for the two unions involved, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. A similar job action in 2011 lasted only about two weeks, but the it took another year for the sides to reach agreement on a new contract.

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The walkout of workers from Massachusetts to Virginia in Verizon’s heavily-unionized landline unit has delayed appointments for customers who want new service installed, Shammo confirmed. But Verizon has trained replacements to fill in, he said.

“We obviously always during this period of time fall a little bit behind on the install work,” Shammo said on the analyst call. “We still see good momentum coming in from a sales perspective so there’s a little bit of a backlog there and we’ll just have to work through this.”