Verizon Communications Inc reported stronger-than-expected mobile customer growth thanks to wholesale partners like America Movil's Tracfone, but its fixed-line business disappointed investors.

Hefty severance costs pushed Verizon into the red in the fourth quarter, though results excluding the costs, and revenue were in line with Wall Street expectations. Shares of the company were slightly higher in premarket trading.

It was a solid quarter but not great, said Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen. Retail wireless subscribers were in line with expectations. Wholesale was meaningfully ahead but they tend to be lower value customers.

Verizon Wireless, which Verizon owns with Vodafone Group Plc , added 2.2 million customers in the quarter, well above the average forecast of 1.5 million from four analysts contacted by Reuters. But the surprise was driven largely by wholesale partners, which attract lower value customers.

Verizon's addition of 1.2 million retail customers was slightly ahead of analyst expectations, and was likely driven by heavy marketing of Motorola Inc's Droid phone, which runs on Google Inc's Android operating system.

Larsen said this meant that Verizon probably gained back some market share previously lost to AT&T Inc, the exclusive U.S. provider for the Apple Inc iPhone.

Verizon posted a net loss of $653 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with net income of $1.24 billion, or 43 cents a share in the same quarter a year ago.

Before items such as $3 billion in charges for workforce reductions, Verizon said it would have earned 54 cents per share, matching the average analyst forecast. Verizon said its headcount fell by 7,400 in the fourth quarter, or 17,000 in the full year 2009.

Revenue rose to $27.1 billion from $24.65 billion in the year-earlier quarter, before it bought mobile service Alltel.

This compared with the average analyst estimate for $27.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Verizon, which has spent billions of dollars building the FiOS home video and Internet service to compete better with cable rivals, said it added 153,000 FiOS customers, missing analyst expectations for more than 200,000.

Verizon shares rose to $30.83 in premarket trading on Tuesday after closing on the New York Stock Exchange at $30.68 on Monday.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman)