Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

Summary: Verizon Wireless posted strong growth for the fourth quarter, but margins were hit in the short-term due to the iPhone.


Verizon's wireless unit rode an iPhone 4S upgrade cycle and Long-Term Evolution 4G devices to a strong fourth quarter. However, the company overall reported a loss due to pension charges.

The telecom giant reported a fourth quarter loss of 71 cents a share largely due to pension charges. Adjusted earnings, which exclude the actuarial charges valuing the company's pensions, were 52 cents a share, a penny short of estimates. For 2011, Verizon reported earnings of 85 cents a share, $2.15 on a non-GAAP basis.

Revenue was $28.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up 7.7 percent from a year ago. For 2011, revenue was $110.9 billion, up 4 percent. Company executives have said that the ramp of iPhone sales would crimp margins.

For instance, Verizon reported a 23.7 percent operating income margin for its wireless unit in the fourth quarter. Non-GAAP margins on service revenue were 42.2 percent, down 530 basis points from a year ago. Verizon said earlier this month that it sold 4.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter and 2.3 million LTE devices. That mix of iPhones translated into a margin hit due to subsidy costs. Overall, Verizon sold 7.7 million smartphones.

On a conference call, Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon, said the company is balancing today's profits with future growth. He said:

While very disciplined in our approach to capital spending, we continued to invest in networks and new technologies which will be the platform for accelerated growth. On the strategic front we made some moves that will significantly improve our competitive position . These include the acquisitions of Terremark and CloudSwitch in the cloud computing space, several agreements to purchase additional spectrum, joint efforts around innovation with a number of partners including the cable companies and of course, our continued leadership in the rapid development of the 4G LTE ecosystem.

In a statement, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam touted the following:

  • Verizon Wireless posted strong growth, but margins were hit in the short-term. He indicated that Verizon is focused on growing the 4G ecosystem.
  • FiOS rebounded from the third quarter.
  • And Verizon is ramping global IP and cloud services in its enterprise unit.

By the numbers:

  • Verizon added 1.5 million net retail additions. That sum includes 1.2 million postpaid subscribers.
  • At the end of the fourth quarter, Verizon had 108.7 million total connections with 92.2 million retail customers.
  • Wireless revenue was $18.3 billion, up 13 percent a year ago.
  • Wireless retail service average revenue per user was $53.14, up 2.6 percent.
  • Wireline revenue in the fourth quarter was $10.1 billion, down 1.5 percent.
  • Verizon added 201,000 FiOS Internet subscribers and 194,000 video users. That tally illustrated a rebound from the third quarter.
  • FiOS ARPU was $148 a month.
  • Strategic service revenue was 51 percent of global enterprise sales.

Topics: Verizon, Banking, Enterprise Software, iPhone, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

    I find it funny that Verizon is not listing their WP 7 numbers. Maybe they don't want to upset a company in Cupertino. Windows Phone sales are a bit better than the media is reporting
    • RE: Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

      @Stephen-B or maybe they don't want to upset a company in Redmond. Think about it, if you were being outsold 10 to 1 would you want that made public? Keep in mind the real ratio at Verizon is probably higher than 50 iPhones sold for each Win 7 phone sold.
      • RE: Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

        @YaBaby you should be banned for telling such lies. WP 7 was the phone OS that had the fastest 2 million sales ever. When Nokia launches the Lumia 900 in the US, it will be the fastest selling phone in history. Nokia is on track to sell 100 million Lumia phones within the next 12 to 18 months.
      • So Stephen-B, you like your WP7?

        When you were known as Rick_Kl here, you hated everything about Microsoft. It seems that you've had a change of heart.
      • RE: Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

        toddybottom_z I was never know as Rick anything. My givenname has always been Stephen. I earn a living promoting Microsoft products, and solutions. Why would I hate that,which pays my rent? Maybe you are this ficticious Rick character, just trying to deflect your bad attitude on someone else.
      • Sure Rick_Kl

        I see you haven't forgotten how to flag posts with your new screen name.
      • RE: Verizon rides iPhone 4S, LTE in Q4 at expense of profit margins

        @toddybottom since you are really this "Rick_Kl" character, you should know better than anyone else how you behave.
  • What the hell does pension charges have to do with the iPhone?

    How can anybody with a brain blaim losses caused by a pension charges on any product? What kind of dilution brain can come up with the conclusion that pension charges is the fault of the iPhone?

    Seriously, are ZDNet bloggers this desperate for click baits?