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Verizon Communications (VZ)

  • Yesterday, 8:03 PM
    • New York City officials are considering a lawsuit against Verizon (NYSE:VZ) in an ongoing battle over the buildout obligations set in the company's 2008 FiOS franchise deal.
    • "If that's what we have to do, then that's what we'll do," said Maya Wiley, chief lawyer for Mayor Bill de Blasio, noting they're working with Verizon and would like to avoid litigation.
    • Verizon has pointed to landlords' restrictions as a headwind in building fiber-to-the-home service in more areas of New York City.
    • A June audit by the City found Verizon failed to deliver on a promise to get fiber-topic service to anyone who wants it by 2014.
  • Mon, Aug. 24, 11:38 AM
    • BT Group's (BT -4%) Americas president has charged Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) with hurting competitors by abusing landline monopolies, and called for tough regulations to force access to the networks.
    • The UK telecom serves hundreds of customers in the U.S. but pays to reach the "special access network" -- the portion that goes the last mile into homes and offices -- of which Verizon and AT&T control about 80%.
    • The FCC requested data from telecoms on the special access networks last year. BT's Bas Burger points to research suggesting the top two U.S. telecoms are overcharging for that access by about $9B/year.
    • Burger is calling for regulated prices there. “For a western world country it is the worst I’ve seen."
    • “There is not sufficient regulation to create competition," he says; "almost all access is being provided by two companies and they have divided the country among themselves.”
  • Thu, Aug. 20, 7:29 PM
    • At least one end result of media consolidation will be all of the big four wireless firms linking up (via merger or alliances) with pay TV, says Oppenheimer's Tim Horan, with a prediction for the four survivors: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- and Comcast.
    • "Regardless of the timing, we expect all four wireless carriers to align with a paid TV provider in some form," Horan says. He writes that Oppenheimer sees Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) aligning somehow, though Comcast denied interest in outright acquiring the carrier in June.
    • Comcast's hand might be forced by AT&T's (NYSE:T) plans for product bundling now that it's closed on DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV). Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) -- currently busy trying to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- could deal for wireless as well, as it expands its public Wi-Fi.
    • Horan also thinks that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) might be the only real buyer for Dish Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) spectrum haul, which might come on the block after the FCC denied Dish $3.3B in spectrum-auction discounts. Oppenheimer sees only a 10% chance that Dish buys T-Mobile.
    • SoftBank had explored a sale of Sprint (NYSE:S) to TV providers including Comcast and Altice, unsuccessfully, and a potential merger with T-Mobile is considered at least as far off as the 2016 presidential election.
  • Tue, Aug. 18, 7:54 PM
    • Verizon (NYSE:VZ) led in overall network performance rankings again, according to the first-half report by analytics firm RootMetrics, though Sprint's network investments may be paying off.
    • Across the board, the results were similar to the last few analyses by the firm. In nationwide performance tests, Verizon took five wins to AT&T's (NYSE:T) one. In state-by-state looks, Verizon grabbed 253 wins/ties, to AT&T's 95. Sprint (NYSE:S) took 25 and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) zero.
    • Metro areas show more variation, but Verizon prevailed overall there too, with 512 wins/ties. AT&T logged 441, T-Mobile 221, and Sprint 180.
    • The tests resulted in a RootScore of 94.5 for Verizon, followed by AT&T's 91.8. Sprint finished third with 87.5, and T-Mobile brought up the rear there, with 82. In the first half of 2014, T-Mobile was third in those rankings to Sprint's fourth place.
  • Mon, Aug. 17, 4:53 PM
    • Another brick falls from the contract-wireless wall, as Sprint (S +10.1%) CEO Marcelo Claure tells The Wall Street Journal that the carrier will do away with contracts and shift to a leased-smartphone model by year's end.
    • Sprint introduced a lease option last year, and ending its subsidies means that leasing or upfront purchase will be the only ways to get a smartphone from the carrier.
    • The move leaves AT&T (T +0.5%) as the only carrier of the U.S. big four that is still offering to subsidize a smartphone buy. Verizon (VZ +0.1%) made its major move earlier this month, and all are following in T-Mobile's (TMUS +1.9%) footsteps on dropping contracts.
    • Earlier, Sprint rolled out its "iPhone Forever" plan that served as a precursor to the model: For $22/month over and above the usual monthly fees, customers can upgrade to the latest iPhone as soon as it becomes available, rather than once every two years. Claure says parent SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY -1%) will help it monetize traded-in phones.
  • Tue, Aug. 11, 6:12 PM
    • In an ongoing tussle over advertising claims, a U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Cablevision (CVC -3.7%) to stop running ads accusing Verizon (VZ +0.8%) of lying about having the fastest Wi-Fi network.
    • Judge Gary Brown issued a temporary restraining order requiring Cablevision to pull ads accusing Verizon of dishonesty by Friday. The ruling comes days after he ruled against Cablevision's bid to block Verizon's ads claiming the "fastest Wi-Fi available."
    • Cablevision ads invoking Pinocchio, or Verizon reps with their "pants on fire," were "literally untrue and implicitly false" and likely to mislead consumers, Brown said. His ruling did reject Verizon's attempts to block other Cablevision ads.
    • Cablevision's Lisa Anselmo said the company would keep challenging Verizon claims "not only through the legal system but also in the court of public opinion."
    • In January, Cablevision said Verizon's ads were an attempt to hurt its launch of Wi-Fi voice/text/data service Freewheel.
    • Previously: Cablevision: We haven't dropped suit against Verizon (Jun. 18 2015)
    • Previously: Cablevision sues Verizon over false WiFi advertising (Jan. 30 2015)
    | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Aug. 11, 3:39 PM
    • Verizon (VZ +0.9%) has "reasons for optimism," says analyst Craig Moffett as he upgrades the stock to Buy on valuation amid a possible calming of the price war.
    • He's set a price target of $54; Verizon shares closed yesterday at $47.23 and are trading now at $47.64, implying more than a 13% upside.
    • Verizon has dropped its strategy of subsidizing phones -- for which it was a holdout -- with a revised set of contract-free price plans.
    • The company's Q2 results hinted at stabilizing wireless ARPU, Moffett says, and "Recent market activity — which includes Sprint's and T-Mobile's effective price increase by reducing the amount of data offered at the $100 price point, and AT&T's decision to add an activation fee to (installment plans) — further our conviction that we are reaching at least a pause in aggressive discounting in U.S. wireless."
    • Despite the fact that investor sentiment has shifted to AT&T (NYSE:T) from Verizon ("AT&T has DirecTV merger synergies to talk about, Verizon doesn't"), he says Verizon has more to gain from pricing firming up.
    • Meanwhile, Verizon says it has successfully field-tested a new fiber-to-the-premises optical technology that could someday promise 10 Gbps speeds by using different wavelengths of light.
  • Mon, Aug. 10, 8:08 PM
    • With an expired contract, 28,000 Southeast union employees for AT&T (T +1.6%) are still on the job and continuing to work toward an agreement.
    • As with thousands of counterparts working at Verizon (VZ +1.9%), the CWA has authorized a strike against AT&T if necessary, with 96% approving the measure. “We’re going to keep our fight for a fair contract going while we stay on the job,” says a union rep.
    • The negotiations cover AT&T Southeast workers as well as employees of AT&T Utility Operations and BellSouth Billing.
    • Verizon says it's trained thousands of nonunion workers in case of a strike by 38,000 of its employees who are still on the job following the Aug. 1 expiration of their own contract.
  • Fri, Aug. 7, 3:27 PM
    • In an "un-carrier" sort of move, Verizon (VZ -0.5%) is doing away with phone subsidies, rolling out a new set of price plans of various data-bundle sizes (like clothing: small, medium, large and XL), and simplifying plan variables by requiring customers to pay for their phone at once or through it installment plan.
    • The company -- a holdout for traditional phone subsidies -- seems to be putting an end to contracts, at least for new customers. New plans go into effect next Thursday.
    • Verizon's new data buckets range form $30/month for 1 GB of shareable data ("small") to $80/month for 12 GB of shareable data ("XL"). Line access charges will be $20 per smartphone ($10 for tablet/Jetpack), and then a device payment adds to that. Customers can change between plans each month.
    • The move is a big change for Verizon, but less so for the industry at large, where T-Mobile and AT&T already have most of their postpaid base off of phone subsidies -- while Verizon still had less than 50% of its sales taking advantage of its Edge device installment plan.
    • The company is reportedly offering bigger plans than its 12-GB XL, but won't promote them and they may not be available outside a Verizon store.
    • The change is likely to please most customers, but some family plans calculate out to a $5 higher device fee under the new setup than before. Verizon also killed its lowest-end 500 MB $20 plan.
  • Thu, Aug. 6, 12:07 PM
    • In a unanimous vote, the FCC denied T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) request for a larger spectrum set-aside during the government's wireless airwaves auction next year.
    • The carrier -- now the third-largest by customers in the U.S. -- had lobbied for a larger chunk of spectrum to be set aside for smaller carriers (i.e., not AT&T and Verizon) in the low-band auction, an area of the spectrum that the two giants dominate.
    • There will be a set-aside, just not the 40 MHz that T-Mobile was seeking, in what is seen as a compromise by the FCC's Democrats after last year's vote to establish reserve spectrum.
    • The FCC is working to keep the auction on track for the first quarter, and it's currently expected March 29. The agency is finalizing bidding procedures.
    • Wireless Carriers today: T -1.3%; VZ -0.5%; TMUS -0.5%; S +2.4%.
  • Wed, Aug. 5, 10:01 PM
    • AOL (NYSE:VZ) has shuffled its leadership, promoting Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann into a spot with oversight of its consumer brands as well as Verizon's upcoming Go90 streaming video service.
    • AOL chief Tim Armstrong says Arianna Huffington is leading the search for a new HuffPo CEO.
    • The shuffle will mean AOL is reorganized into three businesses: consumer brands (Maymann's area), business-to-business platforms (ad tech), led by AOL President Bob Lord, and the new "Area 51" unit focused on strategic investment, led by CTO Bill Pence.
    • Armstrong had no comment about a possible $300M deal for Millennial Media (NYSE:MM), but said: “We have a goal of becoming the largest mobile media platform whether that’s through investments or M&A. If you look at how aggressive we’ve been in the last 12 months ... you should assume we are serious. We are a company on the move right now.”
    | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Aug. 5, 10:56 AM
    • On the Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said the company has made a deal with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to supply its video service with "long and short-form content" -- full episodes of prior seasons, and clips of current series.
    • "This deal extends our platform reach to Verizon customers beyond our traditional pay TV customer base, and adds yet another source to our distribution revenue stream," he said.
    • The agreement will include content from channels including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, ID, and the Science Channel, Zaslav noted.
    • After trading up premarket following its Q2 earnings beat, Discovery shares are now 5.6% lower.
    • Previously: Discovery up 0.4% after Q2 beat amid currency challenges (Aug. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Discovery Communications beats by $0.01, misses on revenue (Aug. 05 2015)
  • Tue, Aug. 4, 7:26 PM
    • Major U.S. telecoms are reporting widespread phone outages in the Midwest and Southeast, for both wireless and wireline service.
    • The outages seem centered in Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee, but they affect customers of AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS). All four of those carriers acknowledged the outages on Twitter accounts.
    • AT&T suggested that the problem has been pinpointed to a hardware issue and that engineers are working with vendors to restore service.
  • Mon, Aug. 3, 6:25 PM
    • ProShares is shuttering its UltraShort Telecommunications ETF (TLL -5.7%), the fund that bets against big telecoms like AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), due to lack of interest.
    • The fund -- a double-short fund working on the inverse of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Telecommunications Index -- will close after the market on Sept. 14. Trading had slowed to about 100 shares on average.
    • Top components of Dow Jones' telecom index that the fund bet against are AT&T, Verizon, SBA Communications (NASDAQ:SBAC), Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), Frontier (NASDAQ:FTR) and Sprint (NYSE:S).
    • TLL was down 7.6% over the past six months. The iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF (NYSEARCA:IYZ) -- tracking the same index from the other direction -- is down 0.5% YTD.
  • Sun, Aug. 2, 8:16 AM
    • Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has missed its midnight deadline to secure a deal with more than 37,000 of its wireline employees, but the unions representing them said they will keep working without a contract while talks continue.
    • Since June, the two sides have argued over the company's plans to cut costs by controlling healthcare and pension-related benefits over a three-year period.
    • A walkout is still on the table. Unions voted last week to go on strike, if needed, and a similar dispute ended in a two-week walkout back in 2011.
    • Previously: Verizon, wireline unions show little progress on eve of deal expiration (Jul. 31 2015)
    • Previously: Verizon workers threaten to strike (Jul. 26 2015)
  • Fri, Jul. 31, 5:52 PM
    • On the eve of a labor contract expiration, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) says it's making little progress on talks with its East Coast wireline workers.
    • Two unions representing the workers (the CWA and IBEW) have authorized a strike as needed, and Verizon says it's ready in case of work stoppage. The current contract -- covering 39,000 wireline employees in nine states along the coast -- expires at midnight tomorrow.
    • The unions say Verizon's demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concession on pensions.
    • The CWA also says Verizon is refusing to build its FiOS network in lower-income areas, while letting the copper network degrade -- leaving many consumers in the hands of a cable monopoly.
    • For its part, the CWA has enlisted help from the mayors of Syracuse, N.Y., and Kingston, N.Y., who it had join them at a bargaining session pointing to their support. Three other state mayors have written letters to Verizon urging fiber-to-the-home buildouts.
    • "The CWA owes these mayors an apology," said a Verizon spokesman. "Unfortunately, the mayors were seemingly misled to think FiOS deployment is an issue that’s being negotiated. It’s not. Sadly, it seems the mayors were just a ploy as part of this bargaining publicity gimmick."
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Company Description
Verizon Communications Incis a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. Its two segments are Wireless and Wireline.