Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced yesterday that it closed 2021 with a quarter of strong wireless service revenue growth and increased 5G phone adoption, as more than one in three wireless phone customers now have a 5G-capable device.
The carrier shared its year-end earnings for 2021 along with its performance in the fourth quarter. “2021 was a transformational year for Verizon that will serve as a catalyst for us,” said Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg. “We delivered on all of our goals in 2021, and made great progress on our five paths of growth, finishing the year with strong operating and financial momentum. As we move into 2022, we have the necessary assets to realize our strategy that we laid out in 2019. We are laser focused on executing our 5G strategy and providing value to our customers, shareholders, employees, and society, as 2022 will be the most exciting year yet for Verizon.”
For fourth-quarter 2021, Verizon reported EPS of $1.11, compared with $1.11 in fourth-quarter 2020. On an adjusted basis, fourth-quarter 2021 EPS, excluding special items, was $1.31, compared with adjusted EPS of $1.21 in fourth-quarter 2020, an 8.3 percent increase year over year.
Analyst Jonathan Chaplin of New Street Research said results were largely in-line, but “maybe a tad soft.” Chaplin said consensus was looking for EPS of $5.37 in 2021, and $5.38 in 2022.
“Verizon has been a favorite long this year.” Chaplin said, “many of the same investors have been bearish on Cable. In both cases Verizon’s fixed wireless broadband prospects have been an area of focus. FWB adds were in-line at Verizon this quarter and FiOS adds were soft. We doubt street estimates for Verizon will increase after today’s results and we doubt anyone will be taking Cable estimates down. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Verizon off a little and Cable better on the back of these results.”
Fourth-quarter 2021 EPS included a net pre-tax loss from special items of approximately $1.2 billion. This included a charge of $2.4 billion for the early extinguishment of debt, a $106 million charge related to severance, a $1.2 billion credit pertaining to annual mark-to-market for pension and OPEB (other post-employment benefits) liabilities, and a net gain of $131 million primarily related to the disposition of an investment. Fourth-quarter 2021 results also included the revenue associated with the acquisition of TracFone, as the deal was completed on November 23. The revenue associated with TracFone in 2021 was approximately $700 million higher than the revenue from TracFone in fourth-quarter 2020.
“Verizon delivered another strong earnings performance this quarter,” said Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis. “Our financial discipline enabled us to deliver attractive service revenue growth and profitability this quarter as we expanded our portfolio with the TracFone acquisition and saw strong demand for our products and services. In 2021, we delivered on raised adjusted EPS expectations, grew revenue, achieved our $10 billion cost savings goal, and funded our C-Band spectrum investment.”