Verizon, for First Time, Loses Core Wireless Customers

By Joshua Jamerson Features Dow Jones Newswires

Verizon Communications Inc. posted its first ever quarterly net loss of wireless subscribers, though its highly publicized launch of unlimited wireless plans helped curb the losses.

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The company's revenue and profit came in less than Wall Street was expecting. The stock, already down 8.3% so far this year, fell another 1.8% in premarket trading.

Earlier this year, the U.S.'s largest wireless carrier by subscribers unexpectedly brought back its unlimited wireless plans for the first time since 2011. Verizon said Thursday that the move "positively changed the trajectory of customer additions" in the quarter, but it still reported a net decline of 307,000 retail postpaid connections during the first three months of the year, including 289,000 phone losses.

Before the launch of its "Verizon Unlimited" plans in mid-February, Verizon had a retail postpaid phone net loss of 398,000; after the launch, Verizon said it added 109,000 retail postpaid phone connections.

Revenue from the wireless business, Verizon's largest, fell 5.1% to $20.9 billion. Meanwhile, the wireline segment that includes its FiOS service logged a revenue decline of 0.6%, to $7.9 billion.

Verizon expects improvement in wireless service revenue this year, with total revenue "fairly consistent" with 2016. But that stands to leave Verizon in a familiar position: slowing growth on the top and bottom lines, and a sliding stock price.

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Over all, for the March quarter, Verizon reported net income of $3.45 billion, or 84 cents a share, compared with $4.31 billion, or $1.06 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding certain items, Verizon earned 95 cents a share.

Meanwhile, revenue fell 7.3% to $29.8 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share profit of 96 cents on $30.49 billion in revenue.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 08:43 ET (12:43 GMT)