Verizon results rise; estimates for new subscribers miss mark

NEW YORK ― Verizon Communications Inc. wireless subscriber growth was slower than expected in the quarter before the latest Apple Inc. iPhone launch but it was still well ahead of its biggest rival.

Verizon Wireless, its mobile venture with Vodafone Group Plc., added 882,000 subscribers in the quarter compared with the average analyst expectation for 1.04 million from eight analysts contacted by Reuters.

But considering that the No. 1 U.S. mobile provider’s biggest rival AT&T Inc reported less than half as many subscribers the day before, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris King said it was hard to find fault with the Verizon number.

“It’s difficult to complain about (subscribers),” he said. “It’s going to be so much better than everybody else’s. They’re still continuing to take market share.”

Verizon’s profit rose to $1.38 billion, or 49 cents per share, from $659 million, or 23 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter, the company said on Friday.

Excluding items, Verizon earned 56 cents per share, which compared with Wall Street expectations for 55 cents.

Revenue rose to $27.9 billion from $26.5 billion and was slightly ahead of analyst estimates of $27.88 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Verizon also repeated its previous expectation for 2011 earnings per share growth of 5 percent to 8 percent from $2.08 in 2010 and revenue growth of 4 percent to 8 percent.

Chief Executive Lowell McAdam noted that the company kept its targets despite storm-related network problems in August that followed a two-week labor strike.

“We faced significant challenges in recent months, yet delivered results that keep us on track to meet our 2011 earnings and revenue guidance, with great momentum expected entering 2012,” he said in a statement.

Verizon shares were down 10 cents at $37 in premarket trading.