updated 1/28/2008 11:33:19 AM ET 2008-01-28T16:33:19

Verizon Communications Inc., the nation's second largest telecommunications company, on Monday reported a 3.9 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings on steady but moderate growth in its core operations.

Verizon also reported reaching a milestone as a TV provider, saying it had 943,000 subscribers to FiOS TV at the end of the year and more than 1 million now.

The service, delivered over fiber-optic lines in parts of 13 states, is Verizon's way of countering the threat from cable providers who are siphoning off phone customers. Verizon lost 10.6 percent, or nearly 3 million, of its residential phone lines last year.

Verizon earned $1.07 billion, or 37 cents per share, in the October-December period, compared to $1.03 billion, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding charges, the latest earnings would have been 62 cents per share, matching the average forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Last year's earnings figure includes a loss on the sale of Verizon's operations in the Dominican Republic. Excluding that loss and special items, earnings in last year's fourth quarter were also 62 cents per share.

Revenue for the most recent quarter came to $23.8 billion, up 5.5 percent from $22.6 billion a year ago.

Wireline division revenue fell 1.4 percent from a year ago, mainly due to the expected drop-off of the consumer-long distance business inherited from MCI. The other parts of the division, which includes Verizon Business, mainly held steady.

Verizon's wireless arm, which is a joint venture with Vodafone Group PLC of Britain, continued to lag behind AT&T Inc. in attracting new customers. It added 2 million subscribers in the quarter for a total of 65.7 million, while AT&T last week reported extending its lead by 4.4 million to 70.1 million.

Wireless revenues were $9.87 billion, up from $8.68 billion a year ago and an ever increasing share of Verizon's overall sales. Operating income in the business was $3.0 billion, up from $2.5 billion, as Verizon Wireless managed to increase its operating margin by 1.2 percentage points to 26.2 percent.

For all of 2007, Verizon earned $5.5 billion, or $1.90 a share, on $93.5 billion in revenue, compared to a profit of $6.2 billion, or $2.12 a share, on $88.2 billion in revenue the year before.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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