By Emily Bary
Shares of Verizon Communications Inc. gained 2.4% Wednesday after the wireless giant topped earnings estimates for its latest quarter and continued to see low customer churn.
The telecommunications company posted third-quarter net income of $6.5 billion, or $1.55 a share, up from $4.5 billion, or $1.05 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. On an adjusted basis, Verizon /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ -2.69% earned $1.41 a share, up from $1.25 a share in the year-prior period and ahead of the FactSet consensus, which called for $1.37 a share.
Verizon’s earnings per share included a $706 million net pre-tax gain related to the sale of its media business to Apollo as well as a net pre-tax charge of about $247 million related to severance payments and mark-to-market adjustments on pension liabilities.
Verizon’s revenue increased to $32.9 billion from $31.5 billion, whereas analysts were expecting $33.2 billion. The total includes two months of performance from Verizon Media, or about $1.4 billion in revenue.
“Our disciplined strategy execution demonstrated growth in 5G adoption, broadband subscribers and business applications,” Chief Executive Hans Vestberg said in a release.
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The company generated $23.3 billion in revenue from its consumer unit and $7.7 billion from its business unit. In the consumer business, Verizon recorded wireless retail postpaid phone churn of 0.67%. Also within the consumer segment, the company had wireless retail postpaid net additions of 423,000, including 267,000 phone net additions and 223,000 for other connected devices, while seeing 67,000 tablet net losses.
“We believe that the wireless results are apt to reflect a more positive phone net add environment for another quarter, with a possible pick-up in prepaid-to-postpaid migration,” Citi Research analyst Michael Rollins wrote following the report. “Our initial leaning is that the relative strength in postpaid phone adds for Verizon is likely better overall industry growth, similar to the last few quarters, rather than an incremental share gain relative to our carrier expectations.”
Vestberg acknowledged on the earnings call that the wireless landscape is “a little bit more competitive” now and that Verizon is trying to be strategic about how it conducts promotions. The company has been “going back and forth on our promos” with a focus on “long-term profitability” and “high-quality customers.”
Verizon had 98,000 Fios Internet net additions in its consumer segment as well as 68,000 Fios Video net losses.
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For the full year, Verizon expects total wireless service revenue growth of about 4%, whereas the company previously forecast growth of 3.5% to 4%. Verizon also anticipates $5.35 to $5.40 in adjusted EPS, above its prior guidance that called for $5.25 to $5.35.
Verizon shares have dropped 8.8% year to date, while the SPDR Communication Services Select Sector exchange-traded fund /zigman2/quotes/204079482/composite XLC -3.17% has soared 21.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.86% has rallied 15.9%.