Verizon shows solid Q4 net adds for business, consumer wireless

The company's 5G rollout and associated marketing seems to be helping Verizon's wireless subscriber tally. But earnings were mixed.

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Verizon

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Verizon had a strong fourth quarter adding subscribers as it appears the company's 5G rollout may be helping fuel net phone additions. But the financial results for the quarter were mixed. 

For consumer lines, Verizon said it added 852,000 retail postpaid net additions in the fourth quarter including 588,000 phones. There were 723,000 postpaid smartphone net additions. For business, Verizon added 396,000 retail postpaid net additions including 202,000 phones. Overall, Verizon said it had its best quarterly net addition showing since 2013. 

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has been focused on rolling out 5G services and expand the company's footprint. In 2020, 5G services are expected to be more widely available along with devices. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is available in 34 US cities with 7 5G-enabled devices.

For the fourth quarter, Verizon reported earnings of $1.23 a share. Adjusted earnings were $1.13 a share. The company had a few moving parts including charges related to early debt extinguishment, a writedown for the media business and pensions. Revenue in the fourth quarter was $34.8 billion, up 1.4%, with net income of $5.2 billion. Wall Street was expecting fourth quarter revenue of $34.6 billion with adjusted earnings of $1.14 a share.

Verizon's 2019 revenue was $131.9 billion with adjusted earnings of $4.81 a share.

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Among the key figures:

  • Verizon added 852,000 wireless retail postpaid net adds. It added connected devices like wearables as well as smartphones, but lost tablets.
  • Consumer retail postpaid churn was 1.09% in the fourth quarter.
  • The company added 396,000 wireless retail postpaid net business additions, but the mix was different than the consumer business. For instance, Verizon added phone and tablets primarily.
  • Media revenue was flat in the fourth quarter at $2.1 billion.
  • For 2020, Verizon said it expects adjusted earnings growth of 2% to 4% with low to mid-single digit percentage growth in consolidated revenue.
  • Verizon added 35,000 FiOS Internet net additions but lose 51,000 FiOS video subscribers. Revenue remained flat.
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