Verizon Gains Subscribers on Disney+ Offers but Misses Earnings Forecasts

Verizon used its Disney+ offers to add nearly 800,000 post-paid subscribers, but still posted modestly weaker fourth quarter earnings.

Verizon Communications Inc.  (VZ) - Get Report posted modestly weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Thursday while adding more mobile phone subscribers as it offered the new streaming package launched last year by Walt Disney Co.  (DIS) - Get Report

Verizon said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December came in at $1.13 per share, a penny higher than the same period last year but also a penny shy of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Verizon said, rose 1.4% to $34.8 billion, just ahead of analysts' estimates of a $34.6 billion tally. 

"Verizon delivered strong operational performance in the fourth quarter, highlighted by continued wireless customer growth in both Consumer and Business," said CEO Hans Vestberg. "In 2019, Verizon drove innovation in 5G, established a new operating structure and delivered solid financial results." 

"We entered 2020 with great momentum as we expand our network leadership and remain focused on the customer to provide a best-in-class experience," Vestberg added. "Our 5G footprint continues to grow as we lead this era of transformational change by building these next-generation networks the right way."  

Verizon shares were marked 1.74% lower in early Thursday trading to change hands at $58.62 each a move that trims six-month gains for the biggest U.S. wireless carrier to just over 3.2%.

Verizon added 790,000 customers to plans that pay a monthly bill, thanks in part to an offer that allows some -- including Verizon Wireless Unlimited customers, new Fios Home Internet customers, and new 5G Home Internet customers -- to receive Disney+, the streaming service launched late last year, for free.