It's telco Verizon Communications' (NYSE:VZ) turn to report third-quarter earnings bright and early Monday. Here's an early look at what to expect.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Out of the 23 professional banking analysts rating Verizon, 12 are bullish and have buy ratings on the stock, while 11 say hold. In the Motley Fool CAPS community, 2,602 members have rated the company and give it a collective four-star rating (out of five possible).
  • Revenues. On average, analysts expect $24.5 billion in revenue this quarter, a 3% rise over last year.
  • Earnings. The average analyst is estimating GAAP earnings to come in at $0.66 per share.

What management says:
Though the outlook for consumer spending looks bleak, Verizon has continued to grow its presence with next generation wireless and wireline offerings. And the company is keeping its foot on the gas with new investments, as Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg noted that "recent investments in wireless spectrum and in our FiOS network will help drive future growth opportunities."

These investments -- including a major merger with regional provider Alltel -- are meant to clearly put Verizon back on top of the U.S. wireless market ahead of neck-and-neck competitor AT&T (NYSE:T). It's heavy broadband investments will also help anchor its position over other competition, particularly cable firms like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC).

What management does:
Already well into its upgrade cycle of broadband fiber optics, Verizon's margins have continued a happy trend after several quarters of decline with the heavy investments.

Margins

3/07

6/07

9/07

12/07

3/08

6/08

Gross

60.1%

60.2%

60.0%

59.9%

59.8%

59.9%

Operating

16.5%

16.8%

17.2%

17.7%

18.0%

18.3%

Net

6.8%

6.7%

5.9%

5.9%

6.0%

6.1%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Verizon Wireless' best shot at an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone-killer this holiday season will be its exclusive launch of the Blackberry Storm from Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). Verizon will launch the touchscreen phone "later this Fall," stacking it up against Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Instinct offering from Samsung as well.

I have to admit that even with the bleak outlook in the market, Verizon's nearly 40% drop in shares in the last year makes it much more attractive as a long-term investment, one of the many reasons to like the stock. We'll see what the company delivers this quarter, but "great value" is starting to be equated with more than just Verizon's retail offerings.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock thinks that low-fat ice cream is just wrong. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Sprint Nextel is an Inside Value pick. Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy actually likes the feeling of mud squishing between its toes.