Verizon CEO Comments About Media M&A “Taken Out Of Context” – Update

UPDATE:  Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s comments on Tuesday that seemed to suggest he’d be interested in an acquisition of Disney, Comcast or CBS were “a little taken out of context,” CFO Matt Ellis told analysts this morning.

The CEO raised some eyebrows on Wall Street when he told Bloomberg that “If Brian [Roberts] came knocking on the door, I’d have a discussion with him about it. But I’d also tell you there isn’t much that I wouldn’t have a discussion around if somebody came and said ‘Here’s a compelling reason why we ought to put the businesses together.’”

McAdam said he’d also take calls from Disney’s Bob Iger or CBS’s Les Moonves.

Asked about that in a quarterly earnings call this morning, Ellis said that “we’re looking at how we execute our strategy. 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.”

Would he take calls from others? “Of course we would,” Ellis says, “But we’re also very confident with the assets we have and the plans we have.”

PREVIOUS, 5:22 AM: Verizon shares are down about 2% in premarket trading after the telco’s Q1 earnings report showed surprisingly few wireless consumers were turned on by the recent revival, after five years, of its unlimited data offering.

Analysts expected retail postpaid connections to grow. Instead they fell by 307,000 in the quarter to 108.5 million. The company noted that it added 109,000 after mid-February when it reintroduced the unlimited plan. Still, the number contrasts with a 640,000 gain in last year’s Q1.

The decline contributed to a 19.8% drop in net income, to $3.55 billion, vs the period last year, on revenues of $29.81 billion, down 7.3%. The sales number fell short of the $30.49 billion that Wall Street expected.

Earnings, at 85 cents a share, also were lower than the 96 cents analysts anticipated. The company says it would have recorded 95 cents if you factor out one-time developments including an early debt redemption and a gain on a spectrum license transaction.

Verizon’s FiOS video service lost 13,000 customers in the quarter, ending with 4.68 million, while the broadband offering added 35,000 for a total of 5.69 million.

AOL, the company says, “delivered solid seasonal performance” even though revenue — not including traffic acquisition costs — fell about 4%.

CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement that in the quarter Verizon “extended our wireless and fiber network capabilities, began offering an unlimited pricing option and expanded our opportunities in new markets. We’re executing on strategies to capture future growth and create long-term shareholder value.”

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