Who Gets iPhone Profits?

While the iPhone has certainly created profits for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), it hasn’t really been good for the carriers. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) shares have slipped, yet it added 1.2 million fourth quarter wireless subscribers. The kicker is that it activated 4.3 million iPhones. Sounds like a good deal, except most of those iPhones were existing customers.

Neither AT&T (NYSE:T) or Sprint (NYSE:S) are fairing any better. These carriers also had problems squeezing more profits while essentially giving a $500 iPhone to a customer for $199. All the carriers really get is a locked two-year service contract.

Analysts feel there is always going to be a drag on earnings. Bernstein’s Craig Moffett says,”an endless string of Apple upgrade cycles will keep margins from rebounding for far longer than anticipated.” Berstein rates Verizon Underperform.

Here’s how these stocks are trading now:

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): AAPL shares recently traded at $423.96, down $3.45, or 0.81%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $310.50 to $431.37. Volume today was 5,873,274 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 12,570,100 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.32, while trailing earnings are $27.68 per share.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ): VZ shares recently traded at $37.74, down $0.66, or 1.72%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $32.28 to $40.48. Volume today was 20,085,952 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 13,950,700 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.17, while trailing earnings are $2.49 per share.

AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T): T shares recently traded at $30.00, down $0.4, or 1.32%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $27.20 to $31.94. Volume today was 14,515,445 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 25,347,000 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.22, while trailing earnings are $1.97 per share.

Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S): S shares recently traded at $2.19, down $0.06, or 2.67%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $2.10 to $6.45. Volume today was 19,699,808 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 38,119,000 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.84 per share.