Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday, March 12th.

According to Zacks, “Verizon’s unlimited data plans have heated up the wireless industry and helped it witness the addition of 1.174 million postpaid customers in fourth-quarter 2017. The telco’s plan to launch 5G wireless broadband services in U.S. markets in 2018 looks good. Further, the company is planning to launch a theme-based online streaming TV service in 2018, backed by the digital streaming deal with the National Football League.  Meanwhile, the company continues to target the SMB segment with Fios TV services and boost its fiber network assets with new buyouts. The company expects growth in 2018 on the back of the expected savings from tax reform. In fact, in the past three months, the stock price outperformed its industry. However, Verizon continues to struggle in a highly competitive and saturated wireless market. Losses in wireline access lines, marketing costs of promotional plans, competitive video market are other major risks.”

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VZ has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Scotiabank upgraded shares of Verizon Communications from a sector perform rating to a buy rating and set a $60.00 price target for the company in a research note on Monday, January 22nd. Scotia Howard Weill upgraded shares of Verizon Communications from a sector perform rating to a sector outperform rating in a research note on Monday, January 22nd. Moffett Nathanson lowered shares of Verizon Communications from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 16th. Wells Fargo raised shares of Verizon Communications from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $50.00 price objective for the company in a report on Monday, November 20th. Finally, Instinet lifted their price objective on shares of Verizon Communications from $47.00 to $61.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, December 12th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have assigned a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the stock. Verizon Communications presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $54.24.

NYSE:VZ traded down $0.76 during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $47.48. 16,064,191 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 17,726,885. Verizon Communications has a 1 year low of $42.80 and a 1 year high of $54.77. The company has a market capitalization of $197,853.31, a P/E ratio of 12.70, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.95 and a beta of 0.64. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.87 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.54.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, January 23rd. The cell phone carrier reported $0.86 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.88 by ($0.02). Verizon Communications had a return on equity of 48.97% and a net margin of 23.88%. The company had revenue of $33.96 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $33.20 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.86 earnings per share. Verizon Communications’s revenue was up 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts predict that Verizon Communications will post 4.54 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, May 1st. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, April 10th will be paid a dividend of $0.59 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, April 9th. This represents a $2.36 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.97%. Verizon Communications’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 63.10%.

In other Verizon Communications news, SVP Anthony T. Skiadas sold 6,967 shares of Verizon Communications stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, February 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.80, for a total transaction of $346,956.60. Following the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 16,059 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $799,738.20. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Insiders own 0.09% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Green Square Capital LLC boosted its position in Verizon Communications by 26.3% during the fourth quarter. Green Square Capital LLC now owns 189,644 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock worth $10,038,000 after purchasing an additional 39,478 shares during the period. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. boosted its position in Verizon Communications by 5.2% during the fourth quarter. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. now owns 597,630 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock worth $31,633,000 after purchasing an additional 29,495 shares during the period. Certified Advisory Corp bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the fourth quarter worth approximately $702,000. Wagner Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the fourth quarter worth approximately $129,000. Finally, D.B. Root & Company LLC bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the fourth quarter worth approximately $1,188,000. 64.00% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications Inc, through its subsidiaries, offers communications, information, and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses, and governmental agencies worldwide. The company's Wireless segment provides wireless voice and data services; Internet access on various notebook computers and tablets; multimedia, business-focused, and location-based services, as well as international travel services; and network access services to deliver various Internet of Things products and services.

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