Telcos Rolling Past Economic Slump

Verizon follows AT&T in not only reporting strong earnings, but also forecasting more for 2008. 

The nation's top two telecom carriers apparently didn't get the memo about the slowing economy. Verizon on Jan. 28 reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.07 billion and predicted more of the same for 2008.

Fourth-quarter revenue for Verizon hit $23.8 billion, a 5.5 percent increase over 2006 fourth-quarter revenue of $22.6 billion.

In a teleconference with investors, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Doreen Tobin said of the economy, "I would say that we have not seen a change in sales expectations through January. We are very confident in our outlook for 2008 and the ability to deliver strong results and create shareowner value."

Verizon's numbers came less than a week after AT&T, the country's number one carrier, reported that its fourth-quarter revenue jumped 62 percent to $2.34 billion.

"Throughout 2007, Verizon's results consistently showed success in what we set out to do: grow revenue, capture market share, improve margins, increase productivity and provide the best customer experience," said Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg.

Seidenberg said Verizon doesn't plan to change that approach in 2008.

"In 2008, we are focused on these same strategic imperatives," he said. "We see significant opportunities to grow revenues and expand our leadership in wireless and broadband markets, while reducing operating expenses."

There were, however, some blips in the numbers for Verizon.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon and Vodaphone, added 2.2 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter to reach 65.7 million subscribers. AT&T, though, added 4.4 million new subscribers to hit 70.1 million wireless customers.

Verizon Wireless revenues were $9.87 billion, up from $8.68 billion a year ago. AT&T wireless revenues jumped 16.3 percent to $11.4 billion.

"In the fourth quarter, the momentum of revenue growth and margin expansion continued to drive double-digit earnings growth," Seidenberg said.