Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) last week saw its shares tumble by 2.84% to maintain its position as the worst-performing stock among the 30 equities included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For the year to date, Verizon's shares are down 13.99%.
The good news for investors is that Verizon's dividend yield is now 5.03%. The bad news is that the higher yield is due to the company's falling share price.
Now that all four major U.S. wireless carriers have unlimited data plans, the carrier business has kicked off a race to the bottom. Where carriers once made handsome margins on usage overage charges, these are no longer available to subscribers to the unlimited plans. Instead, Verizon and its competitors throttle the connection speed once the "unlimited" package hits a certain level.
When competitor T-Mobile reported earnings last week, the company announced that it had added more than 900,000 postpaid retail customers, who had to come from somewhere. Verizon gave away 289,000 postpaid subscribers in the first quarter and AT&T lost 191,000. There's half the T-Mobile increase right there.
What is Verizon going to do about it? The company said it would offer an unlimited data plan to its prepaid customers for $80 a month, the same price the company charges its postpaid customers. The whole idea behind prepaid subscriptions is that customers don't need to pay for more service than they use. The prepaid unlimited plan doesn't include some features of the postpaid plan, like high-definition video streaming or multi-line discounts. Hard to see the bargain here or why this plan will drive subscribers to Verizon instead of away from it.
Verizon stock posted a new 52-week low on Friday of $45.91 per share. The stock's 52-week high is $56.95, and the 12-month consensus price target is $50.52.