Verizon Reports Strong Fourth Quarter Results, Raises Capital Expenditure Forecast
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ – $47.07) reported adjusted fourth quarter results of $0.71 per share, a 7.6% increase compared with adjusted earnings of $0.66 per share in 2013. Revenue rose 6.8% to $33.19 billion due to higher net addition of postpaid mobile subscribers and a rise in average revenue per account as users added more devices to shared data plans. Analysts were expecting per share net of $0.75 and $32.69 billion in revenue. For the full year, Verizon reported $3.35 in adjusted EPS, an increase of 18% compared with $2.84 in 2013. In the wireless business, VZ’s total revenues were $23.4 billion in the fourth quarter up 11% year-over-year and added 2.1 million retail net connections, including 2 million retail postpaid connections. In the company’s wireline sector, total revenues were $9.6 billion in the fourth quarter, down 1.6% year-over-year with consumer revenues up 4.1% compared with fourth quarter 2013. FiOS revenues grew 11.6%. Verizon added 145,000 net new FiOS Internet connections and 116,000 net new FiOS Video connections in the period. Looking ahead, Verizon expects consolidated revenue growth this year of at least 4%; sustained profitability with a consolidated adjusted EBITDA margin at a level consistent with full-year 2014 performance; and strong free cash flow generation with consolidated capital spending of between $17.5 billion and $18.0 billion. Consensus for full year 2015 earnings per share is $3.72, an 11% increase from 2014, although I believe Verizon can easily approach $3.80. This blue chip equity’s appreciation potential over the next few years is quite enticing and investors willing to commit funds over the long haul may find this an attractive entry point. Finally, income-seeking types are likely to find Verizon’s dividend yield rather appealing at 4.56%, providing for above-average total returns to late decade.