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Verizon to Widen 5G Rollout After Fourth-Quarter Earnings Beat

By Eric Volkman - Updated Jan 26, 2021 at 5:17PM

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Perhaps expanding 5G will help the company retain and attract wireless subscribers.

Verizon Communications (VZ 0.88%) is set to double down on its commitment to 5G, the hot mobile technology of the moment, the company said in its fourth-quarter earnings report published on Tuesday.

For the quarter, the telecom giant's revenue saw a slight decline, to $34.69 billion from the year-ago result of $34.78 billion. The bottom line suffered a steeper fall, dropping to just under $4.72 billion, or $1.11 per share, against $5.22 billion a year ago. On an adjusted basis, however, that per-share figure rose to $1.21 from the latter period's $1.13.

Verizon's net wireless postpaid phone-subscriber additions came in at roughly 279,000.

Woman using a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

While the company notched beats on both the bottom and top lines (analysts had collectively estimated $34.43 billion in revenue and an adjusted per-share net profit of $1.17), that crucial subscriber "adds" figure fell well short. Prognosticators following the company had forecast 561,000. By comparison, that number was around 791,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019.

There were certainly bright spots in the earnings release. The company booked 92,000 net additions for its Fios consumer internet service, nearly three times the number of the year-ago period. 

Nevertheless, Verizon is clearly determined to keep up the fight in mobile. It wrote in its earnings release that capital spending in 2021 would range from $17.5 billion to $18.5 billion, and it specifically named two wireless network-boosting activities as targets for investment: "further expansion of 5G Ultra Wideband in new and existing markets [and] the densification of the wireless network to manage future traffic demands."

The company also proffered selected financial guidance for 2021. Service and other revenue growth should be at least 2% year over year; a total revenue estimate wasn't provided. Adjusted per-share earnings are forecast at $5.00 to $5.15.


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