Verizon Communications, the second-largest U.S. phone company behind AT&T, reported fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as customers’ wireless bills increased even as competition intensified.

Earnings were 66 cents a share, leaving out one-time expenses, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had estimated about 65 cents on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Verizon added 1.6 million monthly subscribers, fewer than the record 2.1 million gained a year earlier. The average estimate was for 1.3 million new subscribers, based on a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts.

The average mobile-phone bill increased 7.1 percent to $157.21. The results ease concerns that Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, was feeling an impact from the pricing moves of smaller T-Mobile US Inc. With its cheaper plans, free international roaming and buyout offers to customers that switch from other carriers, T-Mobile has added more than 2 million monthly subscribers in the past three quarters.

“Verizon’s numbers are stunningly good,” said Gerard Hallaren, an analyst with Janco Partners.

Analysts had projected monthly wireless spending of $156.38, according to the average of six estimates.

Even as Verizon lured in more mobile-phone customers with discounts on devices, its wireless unit grew more profitable. The division’s margin expanded 5.6 percentage points to 47 percent. Analysts predicted a margin of 46.4 percent, according to an average of nine estimates.

AT&T Pressure

Verizon activated 8.8 million smartphones. Its biggest rival, AT&T Inc., is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results Jan. 28.

“I think good numbers from Verizon will mean bad news for AT&T,” said Todd Rethemeier, an analyst with Hudson Square Research in New York, in an interview before Verizon’s report. “Someone is feeling the pressure from T-Mobile, and if it isn’t Verizon, then it might be AT&T.”

Verizon said it expects to close its $130 billion deal with Vodafone Group Plc for full ownership of Verizon Wireless on Feb. 21. The move gives Verizon full control of the largest and most profitable U.S. wireless carrier, meaning it will no longer have to split earnings with Vodafone.

In a separate transaction announced today, Verizon agreed to acquire Intel Corp.’s pay-TV startup, gaining technology for video service over high-speed Internet connections. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

Verizon rose as much as 1.4 percent to $49.05 in early trading. Through last week, the shares had climbed 15 percent in the past year.

FiOS Gains

Verizon’s pay-TV service, FiOS, added 92,000 television customers for a total of 5.3 million. The network’s Internet users climbed by 126,000 to 6.1 million. Rethemeier had estimated TV gains of 130,000 to 150,000 and Internet additions of 150,000 to 175,000.

Total sales rose 3.4 percent to $31.1 billion in the quarter, above analysts’ estimates for $31 billion. Net income attributable to Verizon was $5.07 billion, or $1.77 a share, compared with a net loss of $4.23 billion, or $1.48, a year earlier, when results included a non-cash pension adjustment.