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lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter because of charge related to employee buyouts, and said revenue inched up 0.7% from a year ago thanks to the contribution of its wireless unit.

The No. 1 telephone company's loss came out to 59 cents a share on revenue of $17.28 billion in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $2.29 billion, or 83 cents a share, on revenue of $17.15 billion a year ago. The 2003 quarter includes charges of $3.1 billion, including $2.9 billion for voluntary separations. Before the items, Verizon earned $1.6 billion, or 58 cents a share.

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Analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics were forecasting earnings of 56 cents a share excluding items on revenue of $17.27 billion.

The company's revenue picture reflected now familiar industry trends in which consumers are migrating to cell phones. Domestic telecom revenue fell 1.6% to $9.9 billion in the quarter, while domestic wireless shot up 14.6% to $6.0 billion. Data services revenue fell 26.3% to $1.0 billion while international revenue fell 13.1% to $477 million.

The company cut total debt 14.8% to $45.4 billion at the end on 2003 and said total capital expenditures fell to $11.9 billion in full-year 2003 from $13.1 billion in 2002.