After a sell-off that dropped the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) by 1.8%, the index is down 7% for the year so far to 16,204.97. Against that trend, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has risen 10.28% to $50.97, the best among the 30 stocks that comprise the index.
Verizon has several financial and business model advantages over most large companies. The argument is bolstered by the performance of its only major, direct rival, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), the shares of which have risen 7.15% since the start of the year to $38.67. The two companies are often described as mirror images of one another. Wall Street continues to warm to both.
Verizon had revenue of $131.6 billion last year, making it one of the largest companies in America. The figure was higher by 3.6%. Net income for 2015 was $18.4 billion, up 54%.
Verizon has two primary businesses that are healthy and one that is solid but shrinking very slowly. The eroding one is its landline business, which dates back decades.
The foundation of Verizon’s success is its wireless business. Its revenue was $91.7 billion, up 4.6%. The strength of the business is that its EBITDA margin was 42.5% in 2015, up from 40.2% in 2014. Verizon has 112.1 million wireless customers. While pricing in this business can be cutthroat, Verizon leads it in market share, above AT&T and far ahead of struggling Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS).
Verizon’s other strong business is its fiber to the home FiOS, a major challenge to cable and satellite TV. It had 17.6 million connections at the end of 2015. As Americans “cut cords,” FiOS should be helped.
Based on the strength of Verizon’s balance sheet, its $2.26 dividend is safe. And what other company pays out a yield of 4.5%? The answer is very few.
As the market seesaws and tumbles, and some tech companies reset their stock prices 10% to 20%, Verizon is an island of safety in roaring seas. That will keep it at or near the top of Dow gainers for the foreseeable future, and perhaps the balance of the year.