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Verizon Walks Back Full-Year Targets Due to COVID-19 Slowdown

By Donna Fuscaldo – Apr 24, 2020 at 4:41PM

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Verizon is experiencing a big drop in new wireless customers due to unprecedented unemployment and shelter at home orders.

Verizon Communications (VZ 1.17%) walked back its revenue and profit targets for the remainder of 2020 after experiencing a steep decline in new consumer wireless accounts. 

In reporting first-quarter results, the nation's largest wireless carrier said gains in business customers weren't enough to offset the decline on the consumer side. With millions of people unemployed, the economy at a standstill, and most Americans sheltering at home, Verizon's core consumer business is suffering. 

A person holding a white smartphone with red coronavirus cells on it.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

During the first three months of the year, Verizon lost 68,000 postpaid phone subscribers. That compares with a loss of 44,000 postpaid phone customers in the year-earlier first quarter. Postpaid subscribers are customers who pay a bill each month. 

Verizon blamed the decline on the closings of its stores, noting nearly 70% of its retail locations were shuttered. It also reduced store hours and stopped selling devices in-store, resulting in a "significant" drop in customer activity and smartphone sales. Verizon is raising its bad-debt reserve by $228 million to deal with the increased number of customers who won't be able to pay their bills. 

With COVID-19 uncertainty still front and center, Verizon removed its full-year revenue guidance and tempered its profit outlook for the remainder of the year. The tech stock now expects full-year adjusted earnings-per-share growth to be between up 2% and down 2%. It had previously forecast EPS growth of 2% to 4% for all of 2020. 

Despite Verizon's outlook, the wireless carrier said it's not backing off its 5G investment and expects to emerge from the crisis stronger. 

Donna Fuscaldo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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