Verizon added 565,000 new contract wireless customers in the first quarter of 2015, while its profits rose by 6.9 percent to $4.22 billion from $3.95 billion for the same quarter one year ago. Overall revenue rose 3.8 percent to $32 billion for the quarter, up from $30.8 billion one year ago.
Earnings per share came in at $1.02 per share, which was down 11.3 percent from the $1.15 per share earnings that were recorded in the first quarter of 2014, according to figures announced by the company on April 21.
"Verizon is off to a strong start in 2015 with another quarter of profitable growth," Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. "We expanded our base of customers seeking a premium experience, and we grew revenues, earnings and cash flow during a quarter in which we also took significant steps to sharpen our strategic focus. We are confident in our ability to maintain momentum and continue to add value for customers and shareholders."
The company's wireless unit posted a churn rate for contract (postpaid) customers of 1.03 percent for the quarter, compared to a churn rate of 1.07 percent one year ago. Verizon Wireless also announced that it has 108.6 million total retail connections, up from 103.3 million one year ago.
Verizon's wireline business saw a 4 percent year-over-year increase in consumer revenues to $3.99 billion, up from $3.8 billion. The increase marked the 11th consecutive quarter of increases of at least 4 percent, according to the company.
The Q1 financial results were an improvement for the company compared to its Q4 2014 figures that were announced in late January, when Verizon lost $2.2 billion in the quarter, largely due to the cost of non-operational expenses including benefits and pension payments, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Verizon gained 2 million new wireless customers in the fourth quarter of 2014.
In comparison, in Q4 2014 the company brought in revenue of $33.2 billion for the period, which was a 6.8 percent increase over the prior year, when revenue came in at $31.07 billion. Verizon is the largest wireless carrier in the United States.
The $2.2 billion Q4 loss was a $9 billion shift from the same quarter in 2013 when the company posted $7.9 billion in profits for that quarter, according to the company's figures. Per share loss for Q4 was 54 cents, compared with a $1.77 gain per share in the same quarter in the prior year.
In February, Verizon announced that it is selling its wireline phone operations in California, Texas and Florida to Frontier Communications for $10.54 billion as the company moves to bolster its core wireless and East Coast wired markets, as well as its FiOS business. In a related deal, Verizon is also selling about 165 Verizon-owned wireless towers and leasing wireless tower rights for another 11,300 towers to American Tower Corp. for about $5 billion. Frontier currently has access lines in 28 states, providing an array of voice, broadband and video services, including landline assets purchased from Verizon in 2009-2010, according to Verizon.
The deal with Frontier is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016 following regulatory approvals. About 11,000 Verizon company employees are expected to continue employment with Frontier after the transaction, according to Verizon.
The deal will give Frontier all of Verizon's local wireline operating territories in California, Florida and Texas, which at the end of 2014 served about 3.7 million voice customers, 2.2 million high-speed data customers, 1.6 million FiOS Internet customers and 1.2 million FiOS Video customers, according to Verizon. The sale includes those Verizon FiOS Internet and Video customers, switched and special access lines, as well as its high-speed Internet service and long-distance voice accounts in the three states.
The separate wireless tower deal with American Tower will provide lease rights for some 11,300 towers for an average term of about 28 years, according to Verizon. As part of the deal, Verizon will then sublease capacity on the towers from American Tower for a minimum of 10 years for $1,900 per month per site, with annual rent increases of 2 percent. Verizon will have renewal options on the towers for up to about 50 years. The tower deal is expected to close in mid-2015.