Verizon 3Q earnings up 31%

NEW YORK – Verizon Communications Inc. said Monday earnings rose 31 percent in the third quarter as wireless did better than expected, while its traditional phone business continued to decline.

The country's second largest telecommunications company, after AT&T Inc., earned $1.67 billion, or 59 cents per share, up from $1.27 billion, or 44 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 4.1 percent to $24.7 billion.

Excluding charges for job cuts and merger costs, Verizon earned 66 cents per share, matching the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. They were expecting $24.52 billion in revenue.

Verizon Wireless added a 1.5 million subscribers in the quarter, more than most analysts had expected, particularly after AT&T reported adding 2 million subscribers in the period. Of those, nearly a million were people who came over from other carriers to get the iPhone, which is exclusive to AT&T.

Verizon Wireless also added 600,000 subscribers through the acquisition of Rural Cellular Corp., and ended the quarter with 70.8 million customers.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture with Vodafone Group PLC. All of its $12.7 billion in quarterly revenue but only 55 percent of its $3.47 billion in operating income are recorded on Verizon's books.

On the wireline side, losses of home phone lines sped up. Verizon had 2.9 million fewer home phone lines than a year ago, a 12 percent decrease. Verizon otherwise did not give much indication that the economic slowdown was affecting it.

"Although the capital markets and economy may present challenges, we will continue to execute on our business plan and invest for future growth," said Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg.

Verizon lost 96,000 DSL subscribers in the quarter, fewer than the 133,000 it lost in the previous quarter. It added 233,000 new subscribers to its FiOS fiber-optic TV service.