Verizon reports growth in Fios, wireless

Verizon reports net income was down slightly in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Verizon Communications posted net income of US$1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, up slightly from the fourth quarter of 2007, with growth in wireless and broadband services buoying the company.

Net income in the fourth quarter of 2007 was $1.1 billion. The telecommunications giant also reported revenue up from $23.6 billion to $24.6 billion.

Excluding one-time costs, Verizon's net income for the quarter was $1.7 billion, down slightly from $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. Earnings per share for the quarter, excluding one-time items, was $0.61, meeting analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.

For the year, Verizon reported revenue of $97.4 billion, up more than 4 percent from 2007. Verizon posted net income of $6.4 billion for the year, up from $5.5 billion for 2007.

"We think we had a very solid quarter," Ivan Seidenberg, the company's chairman and CEO, said during a conference call. "We had an excellent year. We think that we've built solid momentum going into 2009."

Seidenberg suggested the company's 2009 financial results could be affected by the struggling U.S. economy, but he said it was difficult to forecast the extent of the impact. "We see no reason that the momentum we've developed ... should not continue in some way," he said. "The level of success we have will be tempered somewhat by what the economy gives us, but at this point, our view is we will continue to perform well."

Verizon Wireless revenue for the quarter was $12.8 billion, up more than 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007. Verizon Wireless added 1.4 million new customers during the quarter, bringing its customer total to 72.1 million, the company said.

Verizon's Fios fiber-based broadband service added 282,000 customers, compared to 244,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Verizon's Fios television service added 303,000 new customers, compared to 226,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007. The company had 1.9 million Fios TV customers at the end of the year, doubling from a year earlier.

"Fios just gets better from here," said Chief Financial Officer Doreen Tobin.

Verizon reported a decrease of 68,000 DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) customers during the quarter.

Consumer broadband and video revenue was $1.2 billion, up 42 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007.

Verizon's wireline revenue was $11.9 billion. Revenue at Verizon Telecom, serving residential and small-business customers, and Verizon Business, serving large businesses, each dropped about 2 percent from the year before. At Verizon Telecom, this was the smallest decrease in 12 quarters, the company said.

"So far Verizon is handling the bad economic environment very well," said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst. "Perhaps it is the services they sell. Perhaps it is the fact that customers are saving money and staying home. Verizon sells telephone, television, wireless and Internet services. These are the core services that should continue to do well during the bad economy."

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