Subscriber loss at 307000, Verizon not averse to suitors

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Verizon Wireless says that it lost 309,000 postpaid connections in Q1 2017, including 289,000 phone losses. That news is one troubling development on top of other worrying ones in the company's first quarter earnings report.

Weeks after the launch of Verizon's unlimited data plan, the telephone and television service provider stopped losing customers and actually gained a total of 109,000 subscribers.

"It looks like Paul Marcarelli - the guy who used to say 'Can you hear me now?' for Verizon but became a Sprint pitchman previous year - isn't the only one who's left Verizon lately", is how Paul R. La Monica puts it in his lede for CNNMoney. Verizon's main competitor AT&T Inc. plans to diversify its business through an $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. and has already purchased satellite TV company DirecTV.

Shares of Verizon fell 53 cents, or 1 percent, to close Thursday at $48.41.

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Verizon's stock is now down 10 percent this year while Sprint and T-Mobile are both up. That compares with 640,000 retail postpaid net additions in the year-ago period, including 8,000 phone losses.

Capital expenditures totalled $3.1 billion in first-quarter 2017, as Verizon carried on spending on its network. "Verizon's churn increased from 1.03 to 1.15% of all customers in the first quarter, a strong sign that the race-to-the-bottom between the carriers is starting to see results".

Meanwhile, "Verizon has been looking for additional revenue streams and is in the process of acquiring Yahoo's core business". But Verizon doubled down in 2014 with its $130 billion purchase of Vodafone Group PLC's 45% stake in their Verizon Wireless joint venture.

"They badly missed on every important subscriber metric, and it just underscores that the wireless business is a severely growth-challenged business at the moment", said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson in an interview.Net income attributable to Verizon fell to $3.45 billion, or 84 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $4.31 billion, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier.

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That's led to chatter that Verizon may not be done shopping.

Earlier this week Verizon did a big deal for fiber from Corning for its nextgen wireless backhaul buildout and was talking up high profile merger possibilities with the likes of Comcast, Disney, CBS, and Charter. He said Verizon still believes, that for better or for worse, it can "win through a strategy of network superiority".

Verizon expects full-year 2017 consolidated revenues to be fairly consistent with 2016, with improvement in wireless service revenue and equipment revenue trends; also, full-year 2017 consolidated adjusted EPS trends to be similar to consolidated revenue trends.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations.

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