Investors Yawn at Vodafone's Brawn

The company I characterized as a sleeping phone giant only a few months back -- global mobile carrier Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) -- showed another quarter of solid gains in its interim report. The world's largest wireless service provider by revenue grew the top line by 16%, thanks to recent acquisitions. Even factoring these out, the company still posted 4.4% organic revenue growth.

Vodafone charged ahead with 48% growth in service revenue from emerging markets, propping up a weak but still-respectable 2% growth in saturated European markets. Sturdy performance from Verizon Wireless in the U.S.-- operated with partner Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ  ) -- and a strong Euro also boosted results.

The company also enjoyed admirable increases in important wireless metrics across most operating regions. Customer churn took a sequential dip in each major European market, though the average revenue per user (ARPU) continued to decrease in many markets. On the bright side, revenue from messaging and data services continues to make up a growing portion of service revenue -- 19.1% in the latest quarter, up from 18.5% just last quarter -- as voice revenue declines.

While Vodafone and other operators such as Telefonica (NYSE: TEF  ) , Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT  ) , and France Telecom (NYSE: FTE  ) have fought hard against efforts to reduce roaming charges, customer-use patterns and service revenues show that the impact of losing roaming revenue has been muted. Maybe the European operators are finally catching on to the "free roaming" model that Verizon and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) have ridden to great success in the U.S.

While more financial details should accompany Vodafone's half-yearly results in three months, the current metrics show continued progress on most fronts. The company maintained earnings guidance for the full year, but investors showed little enthusiasm. After a 19% rise in Vodafone's share price in the past year, investors appear ready to wait until spring for more reasons to buy.

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