CNBC Stock Blog

Time to Hang Up on Verizon: Analyst

Verizon's Big Q4 Earnings Miss
Verizon's Big Q4 Earnings Miss

Although Verizon's wireless subscriber base is growing faster than the industry, the stock is pricey and the company risks provoking a major reaction from competitors, says an analyst.

"The challenge is when one player is growing and everyone else is losing, that becomes a very precarious equilibrium," Craig Moffett, Sanford C. Bernstein senior telecom analyst, told CNBC on Monday.

Verizon is growing their subscriber base about 6 percent in post paid, much faster than the 1 percent growth for the industry.

This growth has come at the expense of Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile which have been shedding subscribers. Moffett expects that AT&T to start losing subscribers this year, as well.

The challenge for Verizon, Moffett said, is sustaining this growth without forcing the rest of the industry to dial up greater competitive pressure.

"If AT&T does respond competitively, then that has implications for the whole industry," Moffett told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

(Read More: Verizon Takes Big Profit Hit From Benefit Costs)

Despite Verizon's subscriber growth, Moffett has an "underperform" rating on the stock, citing its lofty 19 times earnings multiple.

"This is an awfully expensive stock for a company that is growing at only around the GDP growth rate, in an industry that faces very real structural challenges," the analyst said.

Among those structural challenges, the only growth in the wireless industry has been the one-time transition from feature phones to smartphones and capital spending continues to rise, he said.

"It's a real challenge for Verizon to continue to outperform at that high valuation given the challenges that the industry is facing," Moffett said.

By CNBC's Justin Menza

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The analyst had no conflicts to report.