Verizon earnings rise

Telecommunications company's third-quarter earnings grow on sales of wireless services and high-speed Internet service.

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. telecommunications company, said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose 4 percent on sales of wireless services and high-speed Internet.

Verizon said it earned $1.87 billion, or 67 cents per share, compared with $1.8 billion, or 64 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Before one-time items, Verizon said it earned 66 cents per share, compared with analysts' forecast of 64 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue rose 4.6 percent to $19 billion, ahead of analysts' estimates of $18.7 billion.

Faced with stiff competition for its traditional phone services from cable companies, Verizon has been spending billions of dollars to boost its wireless services and roll out fiber-optic lines to offer pay television. Verizon is also spending $8.4 billion to acquire MCI, buying a base of large corporate customers.

All those efforts have raised investors' concerns about the company's cash flow and earnings outlook. Verizon's shares have steadily trailed not only those of its peers but also the Standard & Poor's 500 Index for months, underperforming by 24 percent since the start of the second quarter.

Verizon reaffirmed its forecast for capital spending of $15.3 billion to $15.5 billion this year, and said next year's spending will run between $15.4 billion and $15.7 billion, excluding costs at MCI.

Verizon said its Verizon Wireless affiliate added 1.9 million net new customers, more than double the number from nearest rival Cingular Wireless. Revenue rose 14 percent to $8.4 billion.

Revenue in Verizon's traditional telephone business fell less than a percent to $9.4 billion. While the company added 389,000 high-speed Internet lines, total phone lines were down 6.2 percent to 49.7 million from the same period a year earlier.

Verizon said its Fios fiber-optic service would expand within reach of an additional 3 million homes next year. The company has said it expects Fios to be near 3 million homes by the end of this year.

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