Verizon Reports Strong Growth Buoyed by Wireless

Bucking the recession, Verizon Communications (VZ) reported strong earnings Monday. The nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier said its net income, powered by strong subscription growth and the acquisition of regional carrier Alltel, rose to $3.21 billion from $3.05 billion in the same period a year ago.

Verizon Wireless added 1.3 million subscribers in the quarter, slightly higher than rival AT&T (T), which last week reported strong earnings as well. Revenue was $26.59 billion, up 12 percent year-over-year. Verizon now has 86.6 million total wireless subscribers.

Verizon’s wireline business continues to decline, as revenue fell nearly 4 percent and the number of customers using Verizon as their primary residential telecommunications provider fell by 12.5 percent to 20.3 million.

“Things in the wireline business continue to go from bad to worse,” Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., wrote in a research note on the earning report.

Further boosting its wireless prospects, Verizon is reported to be in talks with Apple (AAPL) on becoming a second carrier for the popular iPhone. Citing “people familiar with the situation,” an article in USA Today says that “Verizon and Apple are discussing the possible development of an iPhone for Verizon, with the goal of introducing it next year.”

Some other highlights from Verizon’s earnings report:

  • Investment in its broadband FiOS network has paid off for Verizon, as the carrier added 299,000 new FiOS TV customers and 298,000 new FiOS Internet customers. The FiOS service raised Verizon’s wireline revenue per customer by 13.7 percent in the quarter.
  • Wireless data revenue climbed 56.2 percent, to $3.6 billion, in the first quarter. Verizon users sent or received more than 127 billion text messages in the quarter, an average of 1.4 billion text messages each day.
  • Global enterprise revenue was 3.4 percent, a decline driven largely by currency exchange rates, company executives said.

Verizon shares, which had lost 8 percent of their value this year, were up slightly in morning trading on Wall Street.

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