Verizon: Wireless shines; FiOS subs light

Verizon reported its fourth quarter results and they were in line with expectations on the strength of the telecom giant's wireless unit. Broadband signups, however, were on the light side.

Verizon reported its fourth quarter results and they were in line with expectations on the strength of the telecom giant's wireless unit. Broadband signups, however, were on the light side.

The company reported fourth quarter earnings of $1.07 billion, or 37 cents a share, on revenue of $23.8 billion. The results were in line with Wall Street estimates.

But Verizon's overall results (statement) only tell part of the tale. Like AT&T, you have to burrow down to figure out what's going on. Verizon's results seem to indicate that broadband signups may impacted by the economy much like Comcast has reported. Wireless service appears to be skirting any economic worry (or Verizon and AT&T are gaining at the expense of Sprint).

On the wireless side of the equation, Verizon reported 2 million net customer adds. Verizon Wireless ended the year with 65.7 million customers. Churn was 1.2 percent. Wireless revenue was up 13.3 percent with data revenue jumping 53 percent.

AT&T had a net gain of 2.7 million wireless subscribers in its fourth quarter, but churn was 1.7 percent. AT&T ended the year with 70.7 million customers.

The takeaway: Wireless is a fine business for AT&T and Verizon.

The FiOS business, however, will garner some attention today. Verizon said it added 226,000 new FiOS TV customers and 245,000 new FiOS Internet customers. Many analysts had Verizon adding about 300,000 broadband customers. Those results may indicate some pressure from the housing market. FiOS services passed more than 9.3 million homes by the end of 2007. Soleil analyst Gregory Lundberg said subscriptions may be light because many homes were turned on in December.

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Overall though, Verizon is ahead of AT&T with its new TV services. FiOS TV ended the fourth quarter with 943,000 subscribers. It now has 1 million. Total broadband connections came in at 8.2 million at the end of 2007.

Verizon's business unit delivered revenue of $5.4 billion, up 0.5 percent from a year ago. The business unit had strong sales of IP managed services, Ethernet and optical ring services.

For 2007 Verizon reported revenue of $93.5 billion with net income of $5.52 billion, or $1.91 a share.

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