Verizon Beats Q3 Earnings Expectations, But Oath Media Segment Falters

Verizon edged Wall Street expectations, reporting third-quarter earnings per share of $1.19, up 34% from the 89 cents it posted in the year-earlier period, or $1.22 excluding some special items.

Analysts had predicted profit of $1.19 a share.

Total revenue reached $32.6 billion, up nearly 3% from the third quarter of 2017, and also topped analysts’ consensus estimate.

While there was some encouraging news in the numbers, the company’s media unit, Oath, continued to struggle. Comprised of well-worn brands including Yahoo, HuffPost and AOL, the segment had $1.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, nearly 7% less than in the year-ago quarter. Verizon said it expects “relatively flat” Oath revenue in the near term and does not expect to hit $10 billion in revenue in the segment by 2020, undershooting a previous internal forecast. Tim Armstrong, who ran Oath and AOL prior to its acquisition by Verizon, recently announced his exit from the company.

Overall revenue for FiOS, Verizon’s distribution unit, came in just shy of $3 billion for the quarter. That was an improvement of 1.5% over the year-ago quarter, but video subscriber losses widened. to 63,000 from 18,000 a year ago.

CEO Hans Vestberg, who took the reins from Lowell McAdam over the summer, has shifted the company away from content plays and toward core technology efforts, including 5G wireless. AT&T, its longtime rival, has gone the other way, shelling out $100 billion in cash and debt assumption for Time Warner, betting that its content will unlock the wireless network’s potential. Verizon earlier this year ditched initiatives like Go90, a pricey bid to create mobile streaming programming. Speculation has cooled about it swinging a major merger in the vein of AT&T-Time Warner, though the company has taken part in major M&A discussions in recent years and spent billions to bring AOL and Yahoo into the fold.

“We are investing in networks, creating platforms to add value for customers and maintaining a focused, disciplined strategy,” Vestberg said. “Verizon is best positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the new game-changing generation of technology.”

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