Updated from 9:14 a.m. EST

Telecom giant Verizon ( VZ) saw its fourth-quarter profit rise 15%, driven by its rapidly expanding wireless and broadband businesses.

The company on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.24 billion, or 43 cents a share, up from $1.07 billion and 37 cents a share in the same period last year. Excluding charges, Verizon's fourth-quarter earnings were 61 cents, down from 62 cents a year ago, but in line with analysts' estimates.

Verizon reported fourth-quarter revenue of $24.6 billion, up 3.4% on the prior year's quarter, although that was slightly below the consensus expectation of $24.74 billion.

Investors were eagerly awaiting Verizon's fourth-quarter results to see whether the largest U.S. wireless firm lived up to its growth potential, particularly in its wireless business, which is operated as a joint venture with Vodafone ( VOD).

The company explained that it added 1.4 million net wireless customers during the quarter, not including those from its recent acquisition of Alltel. The firm also added 303,000 net FiOS TV customers and 282,000 new FiOS Internet customers, a record for the company.

"Verizon has shown that it is able to compete effectively in this economic environment," said CEO Ivan Seidenberg, in a statement. "In the fourth quarter, we continued to produce top-line growth, fueled by strong sales volumes for broadband, wireless and strategic business services.

Verizon, which competes with AT&T ( T), Sprint Nextel ( S)and Qwest Communications ( Q), is seen as one of the telecom sector's more attractive stocks, thanks partly to recent shifts in the market.

Verizon shares were slipping 4.5% to $29.59 in recent trading.

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