Verizon Communications Q1 Earnings Shy, Revenue In-Line
Telephone, mobile, TV and high-speed Internet provider Verizon Communications, Inc. (NYSE: VZ – $46.23) reported first quarter earnings of $0.84 a share, two cents below Street estimates, but a hefty 24% improvement over the year-earlier result on a solid 4.8% revenue advance. Revenue rose 5% to $30.82 billion, from $29.42 billion in the same quarter last year, slightly below the consensus of $30.66 billion. The company has now delivered double-digit earnings growth in eight of the past nine quarters, and in the March period Verizon reported its strongest revenue growth in five quarters. As usual, Verizon Wireless, 100% owned for only five weeks during the quarter, was responsible for the lion’s share of the good news as the business added 539,000 retail postpaid net subscribers, bringing Verizon’s total number of retail connections to 103.3 million, up 4.4% from the year-earlier figure. However, it must be noted that the number of new net subscribers dropped 20.4%, when compared with the 677,000 subscribers added during the same period last year. The company said it will try to avoid following rivals into the practice of winning more customers through discounts as the company has been more conservative in launching its price cuts and has relied on its status as industry leader in high-speed data to attract subscribers. Once full wireless ownership numbers move to the bottom line, I see earnings moving ahead at an 8% annual rate to late decade. The shares are down about 9% over the past twelve months, but longer term I believe the share price will catch up with better operating results and the dividend of $2.12 provides the income-minded with an above market average yield of 4.5%. The shares can continue to be held.