Verizon looks attractive after years of underperformance, Oppenheimer says in upgrade

Oppenheimer thinks Verizon finally looks attractive after years of underperformance, noting the stock could surge more than 25% from here. Analyst Timothy Horan upgraded Verizon to outperform from perform. The analyst also slapped a price target of $50 on the stock. Verizon shares rose 1.5% in the premarket. “The catalyst is what we anticipate will be gradual stabilization-to-growth of its subscriber base, although near-term trends could remain volatile,” Horan wrote in a Wednesday note. The analyst highlighted Verizon’s improving network quality, its effective customer segmentation to grow subscribers and its bundling of its fixed wireless access service as reasons to be positive on the stock. Additionally, the company is expected to generate strong free cash flow of 15% annually, as it moves past the heavy investments it’s been making in recent years, as well as the leverage on its balance sheet. Given all of this, plus the stock’s 6.7% dividend yield, Horan thinks Verizon could be a good addition to a portfolio after years of underperformance. Verizon shares are down 20.6% over the past five years, while the S & P 500 is up 48% in that time. The stock is also lagging the broader market year to date. “We previously downgraded in 2/25/21, because the company overpaid for spectrum and late to mid-band 5G builds, which led to customer defections, weaker balance sheet, and substantial capex investment,” Horan wrote. “These factors are now reversing.” –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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