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Verizon said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit and sales slipped due to higher costs and a $119 million charge related to the sale of news and opinion site HuffPost.
However, the largest US cellphone carrier predicted a more upbeat view in 2021 driven by wireless service growth of at least 3 percent.
During the fourth quarter, Verizon posted net income of $4.7 billion, down nearly 10 percent, due to a $523 million hit from severance payments, costs and a $119 million charge from the sale of HuffPost to BuzzFeed in November. Revenue slid 0.2 percent to $34.7 billion.
Verizon said its core media business, which includes Yahoo, appeared to turn a corner in the quarter, fueled by strong advertising sales. The unit saw overall sales jump 11 percent to $2.3 billion.
The telecom giant continued to face headwinds in its pay TV business as more consumers cut the cord in favor of streaming. The company said it ended the quarter with a loss of 51,000 Fios cable customers versus a year-ago loss of 61,000 customers in the third quarter of 2020.
On the flip side, Verizon, which is in the process of investing in 5G technology, said it added 92,000 Fios internet customers compared to 35,000 customers in the year-ago period, as Americans continue to work from home during the pandemic.
In its wireless business, Verizon reported 357,000 wireless retail postpaid net additions in the fourth quarter, driven by 163,000 phone and 275,000 other connected device net additions, partially offset by 81,000 tablet net losses.
Although Verizon did not reveal how many of its users have taken advantage of its deal with Disney for the Disney Bundle, which is included in select Verizon Wireless plans, it did shed some light on retention.
The telecom’s chief executive, Hans Vestberg, said the bundle, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, was retained by more than two-thirds of Disney+ promotional subscribers after the end of their one-year free trials. The exec didn’t detail how many of those subscribers upgraded to the triple-play bundle.
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