Amid competition, Verizon loses key customers for first time

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Total wireless retail connections were up modestly year over year, but Verizon said that it lost 324,000 retail connections during the quarter on a sequential basis.

Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N , the No. 1 USA wireless carrier, reported a 20 percent fall in quarterly profit as it lost wireless postpaid subscribers despite the re-launch of unlimited data plans.

Verizon shares are down 6% over the last 12 months, a period in which rival AT&T has gained 3.4% and T-Mobile has soared 63%.

Total operating revenue fell to $29.81 billion from $32.17 billion a year earlier.

Both the wireless and wireline businesses are under pressure, underscoring why the company is openly interested in merger and acquisition possibilities as avenues for growth.

The profits Verizon Communications Inc. plunged 20% in Q1 as it lost its wireless customers.

The good news for Verizon is that since it introduced unlimited data plans, it's started adding customers again.

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Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche expects that the company's subscriber growth numbers improved a bit since its unlimited plans became available, though her research suggests "a low volume quarter industry-wide".

The company has also pursued revenue streams outside its core wireless business.

In the first three months of the year, Verizon lost 307,000 wireless subscribers who are billed each month, the more lucrative kind of wireless customer. Verizon blamed the decline on a drop in revenue received from overages, the cost of promoting the business, and a decline in the number of postpaid customers. Verizon's churn increased from 1.03 to 1.15 percent of all customers in the first quarter, a strong sign that the race-to-the-bottom between the carriers is starting to see results. Excluding those one-time items, Visa had an adjusted profit $2.1 billion, or 86 cents per share, which beat analysts' expectations.

Capital expenditures totaled $3.1 billion in first-quarter 2017, as Verizon maintained its network leadership. Verizon's main competitor AT&T Inc. plans to diversify its business through an $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. and has already purchased satellite TV company DirecTV.

In first-quarter 2017, Verizon added a net of 35,000 Fios Internet connections and lost a net of 13,000 Fios Video connections. The company also reported that earnings and sales for its latest quarter missed Wall Street's forecasts. Verizon's shares were down 1.2 percent at $48.33 in midday trade.

". if there is the right opportunity out there to accelerate [Verizon's] strategy organically in a way that adds shareholder value, we're always looking at those opportunities", Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matthew Ellis explained McAdam's comments in a conference call Thursday.

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