Should Verizon’s Dividend Hike Be Viewed as a Disappointment?

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Raising your dividend is supposed to be a good thing. After all, close to half of total returns over the long haul come from dividends. In the world of the old, established telecom giants, dividend hikes are now just expected. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) just announced that it has raised its dividend for the eleventh straight year.

Unfortunately, Wall Street took the opportunity to yawn on the news. Was the divided hike a disappointment? No, but outside news and tertiary media news may have weighed on what would have otherwise been good news. The fear of cable and television subscriber issues around a tech and media conference is weighing more than other news about the dividend hike.

Verizon’s quarterly dividend was raised by $0.0125 (a 2.2% hike) to $0.59 per outstanding share per quarter. That will generate an annual payout of $2.36 per share. If this hike is even followed by a mere penny hike in 2018, then it will slightly exceed the Thomson Reuters consensus dividend estimate.

With a $46.50 share price, Verizon’s dividend yield will jump up to 5.07% for new investors. That also values Verizon at only 12.3 times the consensus expected 2017 earnings per share estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Again, if shares fell should this be a disappointment? Maybe being down almost 1% sounds bad, but rival AT&T is down more — and Disney and Comcast were both down more with media shocks after subscriber and earnings pressure were shown at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has a share price of almost $36.00 after falling 1.6%, and its dividend yield is now 5.44%.

Verizon signaled that the higher dividend payout is payable on November 1, 2017, to holders of record at the close of business on October 10, 2017. If Verizon has approximately 4.1 billion shares of common stock outstanding, the company’s new annualized dividend commitment to shareholders will be almost $9.7 billion.

Verizon shares have a 52-week trading range of $42.80 to $54.83, and the consensus analyst target price from Thomson Reuters is $49.59.

AT&T shares have a 52-week range of $35.81 to $43.03 and a consensus target price of $41.00.