Verizon (VZ 0.61%) just had one of its worst weeks in a long time, and its stock cratered 10% in the process.

Just as rival AT&T (T 0.55%) freed itself from the yoke of its Warner Media division so that it can now narrowly focus on its telecom business, Verizon released an earnings report that was underwhelming, to say the least.

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It's losing customers while AT&T is gaining them, revenue growth is now forecast to come in at the low end of previous guidance, profits are falling, and the broader issues confronting the rest of the economy -- rampant inflation, rising labor costs, and higher fuel and electricity prices -- are hitting the carrier hard, too.

Yet, Verizon's stock is now at levels it hasn't visited since 2018, and with shares trading at nine times trailing earnings and eight times next year's estimates, is now the time to buy the telecom's stock?

The good

Verizon is the largest wireless network in the U.S., with 91.4 million postpaid phone connections and 23.8 million prepaid connections. Its network also serves as the underpinning for the mobile virtual network operations (MVNO) run by Comcast and Charter Communications.

Despite the loss of customers this quarter (which was significantly better than the year-ago period), its business segment added 256,000 net postpaid subscribers, which helped lessen the overall losses to just 36,000, far better than Wall Street's forecast of 100,000 lost subscribers.

Average revenue per account (ARPA) was up 2.6% to $123.96, while total wireless revenue jumped 9.5% to $18.3 billion, though that was partially a result of adding 20 million prepaid Tracfone subscribers it purchased from America Movil.

The phrase 5G in gold with gold pixels trailing behind it over the top of a tablet computer.

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Verizon also stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the transition to 5G networks, which will dramatically increase upload and download speeds. It has the most spectrum in the sub-6 gigahertz range, where 5G will initially be deployed, and it is the leader in millimeter-wave spectrum, which is where the industry will ultimately end up.

It also continues to expand its home-internet offerings through its fixed wireless assets. It added 112,000 subscribers in the first quarter and had 2.5 times more additions than in the fourth quarter.

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The bad

While Verizon was able to offset most of the customer hemorrhaging because of its business operations, AT&T was plowing ahead, adding 965,000 postpaid subscribers, and T-Mobile (TMUS 0.41%) added 589,000 subscribers, both beating estimates.

AT&T was also very active previously in the acquisition of sub-6 GHz spectrum licenses and now has nearly as much as Verizon. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to immediately deploy the 3.45 GHz spectrum they won at auction last year, while Verizon dropped out of the bidding early.

This C-band spectrum is seen as the sweet spot of 5G wireless, and because much of it will be inaccessible until existing satellite operators utilizing the spectrum move to a different spectrum -- which won't happen until next year -- Verizon may find itself needing to play catch-up.

Verizon also carries $140 billion in long-term debt, and servicing that load cuts into the investments it could be making in its business. CFO Matt Ellis said the Federal Reserve's plan for aggressive interest rate hikes could push Verizon's cash interest costs on that debt by an additional $150 million to $200 million beyond its forecast.

So, is it a buy?

For all its problems, Verizon is still growing, with first-quarter revenue up 2% to $33.6 billion. It also paid out $2.6 billion in dividends. The $0.64 per share payout currently yields 5.3% annually, which is on par with what AT&T pays after shedding Warner Media.

With the stock trading at less than twice its sales and at 17 times the free cash flow it produces -- the telecom has long been a cash-generating machine -- it looks like a nicely discounted stock to pick up at these prices.

So long as investors realize its high-growth days are likely behind it (though the 5G rollout could give the immediate future a little Wild West flair), Verizon is likely to be a fairly consistent telecom stock for many years to come.