The New York company said that it lost 307,000 wireless subscribers who are billed each month, the more lucrative kind of wireless customer.
Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N , the No. 1 US wireless carrier, reported a 20 percent fall in quarterly profit as it lost wireless postpaid subscribers despite the re-launch of unlimited data plans. Investors will look for indications from management as to how unlimited plans are affecting Verizon's financials and how the company plans to adapt to the increasingly competitive wireless environment.
Total operating revenue fell to $29.81 billion for the fourth straight quarter from $32.17 billion a year earlier.
"Though they lost more than 300,000 customers in the quarter it would have been much worse had they not offered unlimited halfway through the quarter", said Kevin Roe, an analyst at Roe Equity Research LLC. Back in February, the company re-introduced unlimited data and it "positively changed the trajectory of customer additions", according to Verizon. From carry-over data to unlimited, Verizon just didn't think they'd have to adapt. The nation's largest carrier had revenue from January through March of $20.9 billion, which was 5.1% lower than what Big Red grossed a year earlier. That's nearly 400k subscribers cancelling their plans and walking away - often to more affordable rivals like T-Mobile, which had already begun offering an unlimited plan of its own. Verizon has had quarterly losses in post-paid phone customers before, but not when other wireless connections are included.
"Our first-quarter results again demonstrated that customers value a high-quality network experience", said Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam.
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Shares dropped 49 cents, or 1 percent, to $48.45 in afternoon trading Thursday.
According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, analysts had expected adjusted earnings per share of 99 cents and revenue of $30.77 billion. 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.
Capital expenditures totaled $3.1 billion in first-quarter 2017, as Verizon maintained its network leadership. These results failed to meet the expectations of Wall Street.
In first-quarter 2017, Verizon added a net of 35,000 Fios Internet connections and lost a net of 13,000 Fios Video connections. Revenue from Verizon's AOL unit fell 4 percent in the first quarter.
In a call with analysts, Matt Ellis, the Chief Financial Officer of the company said - "We're confident in executing our strategy organically, but if there's the right opportunity out there to accelerate the strategy inorganically in a way that adds shareholder value, we're always looking at those opportunities".