Telecommunications goliath Verizon (NYSE:VZ, news, filings) reported Q4 earnings this morning, and at first glance things look passable. Not blockbuster, but considering the state of the economy I don't see any black eyes. The spectre of increased landline losses has loomed large in this environment, but nothing really changed much in Q4. Landlines in service declined by about 2.5% to 36.2M - a slower rate than in Q3 and pretty much in-line with what we were seeing before Wall Street collapsed.
Verizon added net 303K FIOS TV customers, and net 282K FIOS internet customers, both of which show continued uptake. Of course, the company's growth engine is its wireless business, which saw net 1.4M customer additions, a number that of course doesn't include the Alltel customer base yet. That is somewhat slower growth than the company has been seeing, Q4/2007 had net additions of 2M. Anybody surprised by this needs their head examined, after all people *are* spending less and that means on new mobile phone plans too. But I'm sure we will hear lots about that today.
Earnings of $0.61 before special items was largely in-line as well although they say analysts expected $0.62 and it will therefore be labeled a 'miss'. It's not exactly the end of the world though, certainly it isn't a number that implies that sales or margins are collapsing under the weight of a dying economy. But pessimism rules these days, no doubt the headlines will shortly be full of how Verizon missed.
Overall, Verizon's results seem much more solid than the rest of the economy. Slower perhaps than they could be in a better environment, but far better than what we will likely see from other parts of the economy. AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) reports tomorrow, let's hope they see things similarly.
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