Verizon delivered a classic US-telco story in the third quareter: Wireless was doing very well, telco TV was doing better, enterprise services were under price pressure, and wireline losses continued.
For Verizon, the net was better than Street expectations. Most encouraging were revenue gains of more than 10%, though about half of that was from the Alltel acquisition. Customer churn was up slightly in wireless, and DSL broadband subscribers continued to decline, but the latter was more than offset by broadband FiOS growth, suggesting that Verizon FiOS is attracting broadband users beyond its own DSL base.
The company promised investors that LTE would not generate a big capex surge, a relief given that the large up-front FiOS load is finally tapering down. In all, the story was good but not great. You can see that Verizon, like AT&T, is spending a ton of money on wireless and making a big bet it will be able to capitalize on that investment. We think that in the near term, that is almost certain. But the long-term viability of wireless depends on the ability of the operators to create value beyond voice and Internet.