The will they/won’t they Verizon and Yahoo saga continues

Verizon has reported declining revenues for the third consecutive quarter, but is remaining quiet on the future of its acquisition of Yahoo.

Revenues for the quarter ending December 31 totalled $32.3 billion, representing a 5.6% decline year-on-year, while the 2016 figures were down 4.3% compared to 2015 at $126 billion. While declines in both revenues and net customer additions are worthy talking points, perhaps more interesting is the avoidance of any meaningful commentary on the Yahoo acquisition.

Bringing Yahoo into the wider Verizon family has been widely recognised as the next step in the transformation journey, eroding a heavy reliance on the traditional telco market and moving into the content arena. However due to a number of security blunders, a shadow of doubt has been cast over the deal. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stated “the opportunities ahead with Verizon look bright” during Yahoo’s earnings call despite the completion of the deal being pushed back.

Industry spectators have commented Mayer’s remarks have put to rest any belief Verizon would try to back out of the deal, though Verizon hasn’t provided any confirmation in their own press release:

“Regarding pending transactions, Verizon expects its acquisition of XO Communications to close in first-quarter 2017 and its sale of data centres to Equinix to close in second-quarter 2017. Regarding the Yahoo acquisition, Verizon continues to work with Yahoo to assess the impact of data breaches.”

The Verizon PR machine has chosen to address other major transactions, but left us lingering over the Yahoo agreement. Mayer may be convinced the deal is a certainty, however the comments above doesn’t really set the acquisition in stone.

One might speculate that the uncertainty around the deal completion is creating a sense of nervousness in investors, who might want to see Verizon diversify its business to generate growth. On the other hand, the same investors might be feeling the nerves over the inclusion of a potentially toxic asset into the business. Whether the inclusion of Yahoo or the scrapping of the deal is causing nervousness, it would appear Verizon avoiding any direct comment on the situation is not helping the matter.

Blaming the drop in share price, a 4% decline at time of writing, on the ongoing Yahoo saga would be slightly misleading however, as the quarterly figures are not particularly complementary either. In the wireless business, retail postpaid subscribers net additions were 591,000; this was down from 1.59 million in the same quarter of 2015, and also short of the 726,000 estimates of the analysts. Revenues for the quarter declined by 1.5% year-on-year to $23.377 billion, and for the year down 2.7% to $89.186 billion.

Competition in the wireless market has intensified the need to diversify revenue sources, with T-Mobile US and Sprint seemingly stealing market share from Verizon, though the decision to exit the unlimited data race-to-the-bottom has also provided another adequate reason. Trends in the wireless market are not looking good for the current industry leader, and if an exit from the Yahoo acquisition is indeed on the cards, the team will have to quickly search for an alternative strategy.

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