Verizon’s Third Quarter Tops Street on EPS and Revenues
Fueled by wireless and FiOS connections growth and continued customer loyalty, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ – $45.53) posted better-than-expected profit for its third quarter, boosted by its recent acquisition of AOL and improvements to customer retention. In the latest quarter, Verizon said it added 1.29 million retail wireless subscribers, representing a 15% decline from the 1.52 million it added in the prior-year period, but saw improvements in the number of 4G smartphones and total phones it added compared with the second quarter of this year. Postpaid churn, or the rate at which customers canceled service, improved slightly to 0.93% from 1% a year earlier. At its FiOS business, Verizon added a net 114,000 Internet customers and 42,000 video customers, both representing double-digit declines from the prior-year period. But the results marked an improvement over the second quarter, when FiOS logged its lowest quarterly growth figures in years after launching so-called skinny bundles that provide fewer TV channels and allow customers to purchase select content packages. Verizon’s acquisition of AOL Inc. in June is playing a key role in its future growth strategy. In September Verizon launched go90, a differentiated, mobile-first social entertainment platform. In all, revenue grew 5% to $33.2 billion during the period. Excluding AOL, revenue would have been up 3.1%. Absent special items, Verizon per share earnings were $1.04. Analysts had forecast earnings of $1.02 a share on $32.94 billion in revenue. Cash flow from operating activities increased to $28.4 billion at the end of third quarter 2015, compared with $23.2 a year ago. Verizon’s 3- to 5-year capital appreciation potential is above average and the stock is well suited for conservative and income-seeking investors, alike. If Verizon can end the year with $3.94/share, the current price is very enticing at about 12 times. Also, the recently increased dividend, delivering investors $2.28 per share, yields 5.1% at current levels, about double the average stock.