Even though Verizon (NYSE:VZ) operates in the increasingly challenging wireless, broadband, and pay-television market segments, it came through 2015 in relatively strong shape.
The company has not seen its user base erode in any of its three major categories. That's not shocking in broadband, where the overall market is growing, but it's a bit surprising in wireless and pay television, where price concerns should make the company vulnerable. But neither the always-imminent, but never-quite-there threat of cord-cutting nor low price deals from T-Mobile or Sprint did much damage in their respective segments.
Still, while Verizon has weathered the storm, there are dark clouds ahead for at least its wireless and pay-TV segments. Even with dark clouds on the horizon, it seems unlikely the company will change its approach to paying shareholder dividends.
Verizon has been steady
In a very similar fashion to AT&T (NYSE:T), one of its chief rivals, Verizon has steadily increased its dividend for years. But, unlike AT&T which has raised its shareholder payout for each of the last 32 years, Verizon has gone up some years and held steady in others.
The company has not lowered its dividend since it first started paying one in 1984, according to a chart on its website. Since 2006, when the company paid the same annual $1.62 per share annual dividend ($0.405 each quarter) it did in 2005, the company has inched its payout up.
In 2015, it paid $0.55 in Q1 and Q2 but raised the amount to $0.565 in Q3 and Q4 for a total payout of $2.23. That's an improvement over the $0.53 it paid in the first two quarters, and the $0.55 it paid in the second two of 2014 for a total of $2.16.
Unlike AT&T, which has already announced its Q1 dividend increase for 2016, Verizon has not gone public with its plans, but logic suggests the number will be slightly higher.
(Read about AT&T's dividend plans for 2016.)
The dividend should go up
While the numbers will be small, nearly a decade of history suggests Verizon will slightly inch up its dividend in the new year. That will help it keep pace with AT&T and will meet, but not exceed, shareholder estimations.