Verizon earnings rise 3.9% in fourth quarter

Verizon Communications was seeing little effect of the turmoil in the US economy, reporting higher fourth-quarter earnings that were largely in line with expectations, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said there has been speculation on Wall Street that telecommunications companies, which have been branching out from their old business of providing utility phone services, would be more sensitive to a recession this time around. AT&T reported an increase in disconnections in the last three months of 2007, but Verizon appears to be holding up better.

AT&T is the biggest telecommunications company in the US by revenue while Verizon ranks second, the report said.

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 report said.

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, the report added.

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 %, the report further said.