Verizon’s results mixed amid tough times

July 28, 2008, 1:09 PM UTC

By Scott Moritz

Verizon’s (VZ) strong wireless gains help offset weaker-than-expected video growth and an alarming drop in phone lines.

The New York phone giant posted adjusted second-quarter earnings of $1.9 billion or 67 cents a share, up from $1.7 billion or 58 cents a year ago. Analysts were looking for pro forma profit of 65 cents, according to a First Call tally.

Sales for the quarter were $24.1 billion up from $23 billion last year, and in line with analysts’ expectations.

On the wireless side, Verizon added 1.5 million net new customers, outpacing rival AT&T’s (T) 1.3 million net new customer contracts. Verizon also turned in a strong performance on customer loyalty, with a monthly defection rate of 1.12%, down from 1.19% in the first quarter and 1.26% a year ago. Verizon now has 68.7 million customers compared with AT&T’s 72.9 million users.

But the wireline unit saw an alarming decrease in phone lines. Verizon lost 920,000 access lines in its core landline phone business, adding up to an 11.4% drop from year-ago levels. And Fios, Verizon’s fiber-optic service, added only 176,000 new TV customers, well below the 225,000 target some analysts had anticipated.

Verizon announced Monday that it has now introduced its Fios service to New York. This is Verizon’s first attempt to sell its so-called triple play offer of TV, Net and phone service in New York, where Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Cablevision (CVC) have dominated the market.

Verizon shares were down 26 cents to $34.19 in early trading Monday.