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Why Did Frontier Communications Corp. Shares Drop 25% in October?

Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

Sometimes a lack of good news, rather than the presence of bad news, can send a stock downward. That's what happened to Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR) in October. It didn't report or release any bad news, but it did nothing to change how people feel about the company in general.

What happened

Frontier has been in steady decline for over two years, since it spent $10.54 billion buying Verizon's wireline business in California, Texas, and Florida. Since that deal closed in April 2016, the company has slashed its dividend, had a reverse split of its stock, and reported customer losses in every quarter.

That steady stream of bad news has certainly given investors very little reason to be confident. And with Frontier reporting in early November, the expectation of more bad news hangs heavily over the company.

A person points a remote control at a television.

Frontier Communications continues to lose customers. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

CEO Daniel McCarthy finds a way to put a positive spin on the numbers every quarter. There's no way, however, for him to explain away the company slowly bleeding away the customers it paid so much for.

In reality, there are serious questions as to the long-term viability of Frontier, which has made its stock volatile. After closing September at $6.49, shares fell to $4.81 at the end of October, a nearly 26% drop, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Now what

Frontier reported on Nov. 6 and the news was bleak. The company lost $426 million and it dropped another 93,000 customers. McCarthy, of course, tried to focus on the positives.

"I am pleased with our progress and trends as we enter the fourth quarter," he said in the Q3 earnings release. "Achievement of third quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $878 million illustrates our ongoing discipline in managing costs as we were successful in largely offsetting the impact of revenue declines and incurred expenses related to the launch of our new branding. We have made continued progress in our Consumer business which we expect should manifest itself in an improved revenue trend in the fourth quarter."

That's roughly similar to what McCarthy says every quarter. Investors appear to no longer be buying his line of reasoning, as shares have fallen even further, closing at $3.87 on Nov. 9.

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Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.