Is Verizon A Buy Or Sell As Investors Reassess 'Safe Yield' Telecom Stocks


While VZ stock has consistently underperformed the S&P 500, the telecommunications giant often attracts income-oriented investors, thanks to its dividend. If 5G wireless services reignite earnings and revenue growth, however, Verizon stock might have much greater appeal.


Verizon Communications (VZ) reported June-quarter adjusted earnings that missed estimates. The company lowered 2022 EPS guidance for Verizon stock.

Verizon forecast adjusted EPS in a range of $5.10 to $5.25, down from earlier guidance of $5.40 to $5.55.

The telecom now expects adjusted EBITDA growth of minus 1.5% to flat vs. earlier guidance for adjusted EBITDA growth of 2% to 3%.

Further, Verizon said it added only 12,000 postpaid wireless phone subscribers versus estimates of 144,000.

In the year-earlier period, Verizon added 275,000 postpaid wireless phone customers.

“Verizon’s issue is around the marketing and branding image,” said Raymond James analyst Frank Louthan in a report. “For whatever reason the network quality isn’t enough to bring customers in the door. Management has thrown in the towel and the guide implies they are getting back into the knife fight for subscribers with heavier promotion and retention spending through the rest of 2022.”

Verizon Stock Versus S&P 500

VZ stock is down 14% in 2022 as of the market open on July 25. The S&P 500 has dropped 17%.

Telecom stocks had been viewed as a defensive play amid worries that a recession may hit the U.S. economy. A Dow component, Verizon stock pays a 4.6% dividend.

But AT&T (T) lowered its full-year free cash flow outlook.

Verizon may be in a tough position as wireless competition heats up with AT&T and T-Mobile US (TMUS), analysts say. Rather than chase market share, Verizon has opted to bolster average monthly subscriber revenue.

In the June quarter, Verizon hiked some wireless prices along with AT&T.

Verizon Stock: TMUS Building Best 5G Network?

Verizon faces challenges as 5G wireless networks are built out, said Craig Moffett, analyst at MoffettNathanson in a report.

“They have built their brand on a decades-long positioning as the nation’s ‘best network’ and they have been able to charge a premium for that positioning,” Moffett said. “Unfortunately, as we enter the 5G era, we believe T-Mobile, not Verizon, will have bragging rights to best network status.”

He added: “As subscriber growth in an already-saturated wireless industry decelerates back towards population growth, we believe Verizon will be hard-pressed to post positive unit growth.”

One overhang on VZ stock involves mid-band radio spectrum it bought for 5G wireless services. Verizon stock spent $53 billion in a government auction, including incentive payments to satellite operators and clearing costs. The purchase of midband spectrum for 5G services will delay a VZ stock buyback.

VZ Stock: Tracfone Deal Finally Closes

VZ stock in May 2021 sold a 90% stake in its media and advertising business to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion.

In a bright spot, Verizon in November finally closed the $6.25 billion acquisition of Tracfone from Mexico-based America Movil (AMX). Tracfone sells pre-paid wireless services.

For Verizon stock, one problem is that 5G wireless competition is expected to intensify. Cable TV firms are ramping up new promotions with aggressive pricing.

T-Mobile US’s acquisition of Sprint created a stronger rival. In addition, AT&T recently agreed to merge its WarnerMedia business with Discovery (DISCA). As a result, a slimmed-down AT&T is expected to have more money to invest in 5G wireless technology and fiber-optic services.

Verizon Stock: Mid-Band Spectrum Key To 5G Revenue Growth

Now that Verizon owns sufficient 5G midband spectrum, its network buildout will be key. Verizon aims to reach 175 million people by the end of 2022 with midband spectrum-based 5G services that provide faster data speeds.

Also, Verizon plans to use the 5G midband spectrum to deliver fixed broadband services to homes. Cable TV companies currently dominate in residential broadband. The telecom said its fixed broadband service will reach 30 million homes by the end of 2023.

Verizon expects 5G business services to gain momentum in 2022. Also, it’s investing in “mobile-edge compute” sites that provide private 5G business services.

VZ Stock: Content Deals

New York-based Verizon has partnered with Walt Disney (DIS) in video streaming services. Disney and Verizon in August expanded their streaming partnership to include Hulu and ESPN+. Verizon has also partnered for Apple (AAPL) Music services and with sports leagues.

In December 2020, Verizon added Discovery (DISCA) as a video streaming partner.

“We continue to believe Verizon’s streaming partnerships with Disney, Discovery, NFL as well as gaming partnerships with Apple/Google are driving higher sell-through of premium unlimited plans,” Raymond James analyst Frank Louthan said in a note to clients.

VZ Stock: Top Management New

Thanks to low interest rates, Verizon stock has posted some good runs since the global recession of 2008-2009. The telecom giant at one point jumped into the IBD Leaderboard. It’s a curated list of leading stocks that stand out on technical and fundamental metrics.

Verizon is much more exposed to the U.S. wireless market than rival telecom AT&T. Verizon gets nearly 85% of adjusted earnings from its wireless business.

The company has paid down debt since it bought Vodafone Group‘s (VOD) 45% stake in a wireless joint venture for $130 billion in early 2014.

Further, its senior leadership is new. Hans Vestberg served as chief executive at network gear maker Ericsson (ERICY) before joining Verizon. Vestberg and Chief Strategy Officer Rima Qureshi, also an Ericsson veteran, both came to Verizon in 2017.

VZ Stock Fundamentals In A Maturing Industry

Revenue growth remains an issue. Verizon’s long-range problem is that the U.S. wireless market is saturated. Many consumers have delayed upgrading to new smartphones. Plus, data-gobbling mobile video hasn’t panned out as a big moneymaker.

VZ stock fell after the telecom giant reported second-quarter earnings and lowered expectations for this year.

For the June quarter, Verizon earnings came in at $1.31 a share, excluding items. Revenue rose 3% to $33.8 billion, edging by estimates.

A year earlier, Verizon earned $1.37 a share on revenue of $34.77 billion. Analysts had projected Verizon earnings of $1.33 a share on revenue of $33.77 billion.

In the Verizon earnings report, Q2 wireless service revenue rose 9% to $18.4 billion vs. analyst estimates of $18.39 billion.

Verizon Stock: 5G Wireless To The Rescue?

Verizon’s 5G mobile network uses both lower-band and high frequency airwaves. Its lower-band 5G services are widely available but don’t offer much improvement in data speeds over older 4G networks.

Verizon’s  5G “Ultrawideband,” or UWB, mobile services use high frequency, mmWave spectrum.

Verizon has partnered with Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of (AMZN) to develop 5G apps for the web-connected industrial devices. Another partner is IBM (IBM).

Pundits expect 5G wireless to have a role in manufacturing automation, cloud gaming, autonomous vehicles, drones and remote health care services.

VZ Stock Analysis: Is It A Buy Right Now?

VZ stock holds a Relative Strength Rating of 38 out of a best possible 99, according to the IBD Stock Checkup. The best stocks tend to have an RS rating of 80 or better.

Verizon stock also holds an IBD Composite Rating of 45 out of a best possible 99, according to IBD Stock Checkup. IBD’s Composite Rating combines five separate proprietary ratings into one easy-to-use rating. The best growth stocks have a Composite Rating of 90 or better.

Verizon stock, meanwhile, has an Accumulation/Distribution Rating of E. That rating analyzes price and volume changes in a stock over the past 13 weeks of trading. The rating, on an A+ to E scale, measures institutional buying and selling in a stock. A+ signifies heavy institutional buying; E means heavy selling. Think of the C grade as neutral.

As of the market open on July 25, VZ stock holds an entry point of 52.28. Verizon stock trades below the entry point.

Investors could take a look at other 5G stocks, such as chip makers or network gear suppliers.

Meanwhile, emerging 5G wireless apps could take years to generate significant revenue. Rather than buy Verizon stock, income-oriented investors might consider a large ETF such as SPY, which tracks the S&P 500.

Follow Reinhardt Krause on Twitter @reinhardtk_tech for updates on 5G wireless, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud computing.


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