Verizon beats profit estimates, to spend more this year on 5G rollout

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Verizon CEO on what 5G means for consumers

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on the opportunities for growth, what 5G will mean for consumers, the telecom's cost cutting and the outlook for the U.S. economy.

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit on Tuesday, as the largest U.S. mobile carrier added almost twice as many net new subscribers who pay a monthly bill as analysts had previously expected.

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Total operating revenue, however, rose just 1 percent to $34.28 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31, missing the average analyst estimate of $34.44 billion.

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The company also forecast capital spending for 2019 in the range of $17 billion to $18 billion, including costs for the expanded commercial launch of 5G, compared with $16.7 billion last year.

Verizon launched 5G home internet in four cities in October last year, and claimed to be the first to bring a commercial 5G product in the United States amid heated competition between major carriers.

The company also said in December it was working with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to launch 5G enabled smartphones in the first half of 2019.

The largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers said it added a net 653,000 phone subscribers during the fourth quarter, beating the average estimate of 355,600 net additions, according to research firm FactSet.

It lost 46,000 Fios video subscribers during the quarter, more than the 29,000 it lost last year, as viewers continue to favor cheaper internet TV services over paying for pricier cable packages. The latest subscriber losses were, however, fewer than analysts' estimate of 51,000 losses.

Net income attributable to the company fell to $1.94 billion, or 47 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $18.78 billion, or $4.56 per share, a year earlier, when it recorded a $16.8 billion one-time benefit from the U.S. tax overhaul.

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Excluding items, Verizon earned $1.12 per share, above the average estimate of $1.09 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)