Telecom Giant and Dow-30 component Verizon (VZ - Free Verizon Stock Report) has reported its fourth-quarter results. Revenues advanced 7.7% in the final interim, from the year-earlier period, to a record $28.4 billion. However, the company's bottom-line performance was not as rosy, with share net coming in at $0.52, a couple of pennies below the year-earlier result and $0.04 shy of our estimate.
As expected, Verizon Wireless (55% owned by Verizon Communications) remained a cash cow, with unit revenues up 13.0% from the prior year, to $18.3 billion. Wireless subscribers continue to gobble up bandwidth at a rapid rate, with data revenues jumping 19.2% in the quarter, to $6.3 billion. What's more, the Wireless division logged 1.5 million retail net additions in the December period, its largest increase in three years. However, as usual, this impressive growth comes at a cost, namely a bit of margin pressure, the result of handset subsidiaries and capital layouts necessary to drive iPhone subscriber growth.
At the end of the year, smartphones comprised 44% of the Verizon Wireless retail postpaid customer phone base, up from 39% at the end of the previous quarter. This certainly augurs well for average revenue per user (ARPU) growth, as smartphone users typically pay additional data-related expenses. As mentioned earlier, data revenues were up 19.2% in the December quarter, relative to the year-earlier figure, and we would not be surprised to see more of the same going forward, given Verizon's ongoing rollout of its 4G LTE (fourth-generation, Long-Term Evolution) mobile broadband network, the largest 4G network in the United States. To wit, as of late January, VZ's Wireless 4G LTE service was available to more than 200 million people in 195 markets across the United States.
Verizon's Wireline revenues dropped off modestly during the final stanza of 2011. Yet the wireline business continues to gain new FiOS Internet and television subscribers, with FiOS services to consumer retail customers comprising 61% of consumer wireline revenue in the quarter, up one percentage point sequentially. In addition, the FiOS network was installed at approximately 16.5 million homes at yearend 2011, up more than 900,000 from the year-earlier figure.
Separately, the company has been active on the acquisition trail, which ought to widen its footprint even further. Notably, in December, VZ Wireless announced agreements to purchase AWS licenses from SpectrumCo, a joint venture of Comcast, Time Warner, and Bright House Networks, and from Cox TMI Wireless. The spectrum licenses under the two agreements cover 93% of the U.S. population and the deals are naturally subject to the typical regulatory approvals.
About The Company: Verizon Communications was created by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE in June of 2000. It is a diversified telecom company with a network that covers a population of about 290 million and provides service to nearly 91.2 million. In the last few years, has acquired MCI (1/06) and Alltel (1/09). The company is also the largest provider of print and on-line directory information. Has a wireline presence in 28 states & Washington, D.C. and a wireless presence in every U.S. state & D.C., as well as operations in 19 countries.
At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.