Verizon Communications (VZ) Lowered to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Saturday morning.

According to Zacks, “Verizon continues to struggle in a highly competitive and saturated wireless market, where spectrum crunch has become a major issue. Losses in wireline access lines, higher marketing costs of promotional plans and competitive video market remain major impediments. Verizon’s wireline division is struggling with persistent losses in access lines owing to competitive pressure from VoIP service providers and aggressive triple-play offerings by cable companies. Adoption of several unlimited data plans have resulted in a reduction of wireless service revenues and average revenue per user. All these are likely to weigh on the company’s revenues and margins. However, the company’s plan to launch 5G wireless broadband services in selected U.S. cities in 2018, in order to boost its market presence, remains well on track. The stock has also outperformed the industry in the past six months on an average.”

Several other research analysts have also issued reports on VZ. Deutsche Bank upgraded Verizon Communications from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $49.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, June 19th. Guggenheim assumed coverage on Verizon Communications in a research report on Tuesday, March 13th. They issued a buy rating and a $58.00 price target on the stock. Jefferies Financial Group assumed coverage on Verizon Communications in a research report on Thursday, June 7th. They issued a hold rating and a $52.00 price target on the stock. JPMorgan Chase & Co. upgraded Verizon Communications from a neutral rating to an overweight rating and set a $58.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Friday, May 11th. Finally, William Blair restated a market perform rating on shares of Verizon Communications in a research report on Wednesday, April 25th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating and eighteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Verizon Communications presently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $54.62.

Shares of Verizon Communications opened at $50.31 on Friday, according to MarketBeat.com. Verizon Communications has a 52 week low of $42.80 and a 52 week high of $54.77. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.15, a quick ratio of 0.94 and a current ratio of 0.98. The firm has a market capitalization of $207.68 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.67, a PEG ratio of 1.74 and a beta of 0.63.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 24th. The cell phone carrier reported $1.17 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.11 by $0.06. Verizon Communications had a return on equity of 42.62% and a net margin of 24.37%. The business had revenue of $31.77 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $31.25 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.95 EPS. The firm’s revenue was up 6.6% on a year-over-year basis. analysts forecast that Verizon Communications will post 4.58 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, August 1st. Investors of record on Tuesday, July 10th will be paid a dividend of $0.59 per share. This represents a $2.36 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.69%. The ex-dividend date is Monday, July 9th. Verizon Communications’s payout ratio is presently 63.10%.

In related news, SVP Anthony T. Skiadas sold 1,974 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.44, for a total transaction of $97,594.56. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 16,060 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $794,006.40. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Company insiders own 0.09% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Northstar Asset Management LLC increased its position in shares of Verizon Communications by 2.9% in the fourth quarter. Northstar Asset Management LLC now owns 35,391 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $1,873,000 after acquiring an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. Halbert Hargrove Russell LLC increased its position in shares of Verizon Communications by 19.3% in the fourth quarter. Halbert Hargrove Russell LLC now owns 6,268 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $332,000 after acquiring an additional 1,013 shares during the last quarter. Neville Rodie & Shaw Inc. increased its position in shares of Verizon Communications by 1.4% in the fourth quarter. Neville Rodie & Shaw Inc. now owns 74,755 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $3,957,000 after acquiring an additional 1,020 shares during the last quarter. Tompkins Financial Corp increased its position in shares of Verizon Communications by 1.4% in the fourth quarter. Tompkins Financial Corp now owns 77,349 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $4,094,000 after acquiring an additional 1,043 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Quadrant Capital Group LLC increased its position in shares of Verizon Communications by 11.3% in the fourth quarter. Quadrant Capital Group LLC now owns 10,266 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $527,000 after acquiring an additional 1,046 shares during the last quarter. 63.71% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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