Verizon’s profit forecast misses expectations due to mobile issues.


(Bloomberg) — Verizon Communications Inc.’s earnings outlook has lagged Wall Street estimates as its consumer wireless business struggles to win new customers.

America’s largest wireless carrier has relied on expensive phone giveaways to compete with its peers. The company said Tuesday that it expects earnings-per-share in the range of $4.55 to $4.85 for 2023, excluding some items, with analysts expecting an average of $4.97.

Verizon is the first of the top three US carriers to report full results. Thanks to network improvements and free phone calls, the company became AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc. are losing market share.

An expected annual profit decline of about 9% this year highlights the challenges Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is facing as it relies on margin-squeezing promotions to revive its sluggish consumer business. Verizon had three consumer heads last year.

In a call with analysts on Tuesday, Vestberg said his pricing strategy would be market-dependent. His current plans do not include price increases.

“We’re going to be surgical and divisive in our approach,” Vestberg said. “We will continue to find ways to market our plans to reduce subsidy levels.”

The company added 217,000 new wireless phone subscribers in the fourth quarter, beating analyst expectations of 209,600. But that increase was far less than the 927,000 mobile phone subscribers T-Mobile added in the fourth quarter. AT&T, reporting Wednesday, is expected to add 639,600 phone subscribers.

Shares of Verizon rose 0.1% at 10:23 a.m. New York time. Shares are down 25% over the past 12 months through Monday’s close, with AT&T down 4% and T-Mobile up 35%.

Verizon did not provide a forecast for its mobile business. Analysts expect the industry’s subscriber growth to slow this year as consumers begin to cut back on spending.

One bright spot for Verizon is its continued growth in broadband. The company added 379,000 wireless home subscribers in the fourth quarter, with analysts expecting 251,200. Analysts expect Verizon and other wireless carriers to add more than 1 million customers throughout the year as competition from cable companies intensifies.

Fourth-quarter profits and sales were in line with estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

(Updated CEO comments in 5th and 6th paragraphs)

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