Updated from 12:54 p.m. with additional information.
Verizon (VZ) will give the first earnings report from a tough, competitive first quarter in telecom before the market opens on Thursday.
During the quarter, Verizon reluctantly launched an unlimited wireless service, announced the ill-received rebranding of its digital businesses under the Oath brand and opted not to acquire spectrum licenses in a government auction.
Wall Street expects the telecom to report 99 cents in non-GAAP earnings per share on $30.68 billion in total revenue, according to FactSet. On Wednesday, shares of Verizon closed down nearly 0.6% to $48.94. Year to date, shares are down 8.3%, compared to an increase of nearly 5% for the S&P 500.
CEO Lowell McAdam's recent comments that Verizon is amenable to a deal with Comcast (CMCSA) , Disney (CBS) or CBS (CBS) could overshadow some investor questions about first-quarter performance. Wall Street was already curious about Verizon's M&A ambitions as the FCC quiet period limiting talks between some companies lifts.
A merger of Verizon and a major video producer such as NBC parent Comcast, alongside AT&T's (T) pending purchase of Time Warner (TWX) , could push the telecom and Internet industries to new levels of competition, Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar suggested in a Wednesday note.
Three to four telecoms now vie against companies such as Facebook (FB) , Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google and Amazon (AMZN) , which have powerful internet platforms but do not own infrastructure, Venkateshwar noted.
The two types of companies "are likely to use video as a way to attract subscribers into their respective ecosystems and then cross sell other products in order to monetize their platforms," the analyst wrote. The telecoms would have bundles of "wireless and wireline broadband, video, home security" while a competitor like Amazon would package "free shipping, music, echo, video, etc."