LONDON -- Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L ) (Nasdaq: VOD ) has dipped about 2% to 174 pence so far during 2012, making this popular share one of the year's more disappointing performers in the FTSE 100. During the same time, the blue-chip index has gained 4%.
Vodafone, which has a 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, is the second-largest mobile phone company in the world (behind China Mobile) and serves nearly 400 million customers in more than 30 countries.
Despite the lackluster performance so far in 2012, with a diversified geographic position and strong fundamentals, Vodafone looks like it will continue to be a solid defensive play in shaky economic times.
In May, Vodafone announced results for 2012, which showed revenues up 1% to about 46 billion pounds. EBITDA, meanwhile, fell 1% to around 25 billion pounds. The company declared a final dividend per share of 6.47 pence, giving shareholders a total dividend per share for the year of 13.52 pence, up 52%
At the time, Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone, said:
Our focus on the key growth areas of data, emerging markets and enterprise is positioning us well in a difficult macroeconomic environment. Our robust cash generation and the dividend received from Verizon Wireless have enabled us to translate this operational success into good returns for shareholders.
Colao then affirmed:
Our goal over the next three years is to continue to strengthen our technology and commercial platforms through reliable and secure high speed data networks, significantly enhanced customer service across all channels, and improved data pricing models, to enrich customers' experience and maximize our share of value in the markets in which we operate.
Then in July, Vodafone's first-quarter results reflected the group's continued struggles in Europe, where revenues declined, though the company posted strong growth in emerging markets. Globally, however, Vodafone managed just a 0.6% first-quarter revenue advance, but confirmed its full-year outlook.
Helping to fuel growth this year has been Vodafone's launch of the Smart II -- a low-cost, mass-market smartphone -- as well as a partnership with Visa to create the world's largest mobile-payments partnership.
And let's not forget the increasing demand for 4G -- the mobile computing revolution is still in its early stages, and carriers such as Vodafone are set to benefit as more and more of us go online.
No doubt Vodafone shareholders will be hoping for better share-price progress this year and next, although the healthy dividend has helped offset the market-lagging performance during 2012. With a forecast dividend yield of 7%, Vodafone is offering income-hunters nearly twice the yield of the FTSE 100.
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