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Verizon will launch over-the-top service before year-end with NFL as key piece, analyst predicts

  • Nomura upgrades Verizon to buy from neutral and increases its price target on the telecom company to $61, citing the company's potential new streaming service.
  • Verizon stock is up more than 15 percent in the past month on hopes of tax cuts, according to analyst Jeffrey Kvaal, who said the GOP tax plan could drive the company's earnings higher.
  • The addition of LTE Advanced and 5G in 2018 should lower the cost per gigabyte of data by a factor of 10x, explained the analyst, spelling greater savings for Verizon.
Pedestrians cross Herald Square in front of a Verizon Wireless store in New York.
Richard Levine | Corbis | Getty Images
Pedestrians cross Herald Square in front of a Verizon Wireless store in New York.

Verizon will leave its earnings "plateau" behind in 2018 thanks to an over-the-top platform launch by year's end, according to Nomura.

"After three years of stable to declining earnings per share — Verizon's self-described 'plateau' — we think the company is finally poised to resume earnings per share growth," wrote Kvaal on Monday. "Verizon has teased OTT since September ... Unlike AT&T, Verizon need not bundle its over-the-top service to reduce churn or be overly mindful of its existing video base as its pay-TV base is minimal relative to rivals."

Investors got a first glimpse into a broader OTT platform Monday, when Verizon announced a partnership with the NFL to distribute live football games on Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights. Such a move by Verizon would put it in direct competition with AT&T's DirectTV Now service.

The NFL partnership will allow fans on any mobile carrier to stream professional football games on their smartphones. Until the agreement, only Verizon customers could watch live games on their phones.

And while Kvaal expects "more to come" in terms of OTT content, he also added that the telecommunications company's 15 percent stock appreciation over the past month reflects mounting optimism around the Republican tax efforts, which could add 20 percent to earnings per share.

Verizon declined to comment for this story.

The analyst raised his price target to $61 from $47, representing 18 percent upside from Monday's close.

Shares were up 1.9 percent Tuesday, set to add to the stock's 15 percent climb over the past month. Verizon's latest and greatest developments in data speed likely spell upside as well.

By the end of the second quarter, Verizon experienced more subscribers migrating up to an unlimited plan from a lower-priced, fixed data capacity plan than subscribers migrating downward, noted Kvaal. While that trend alone is expected to drive revenue, profits should also pop with the introduction of 5G service and migration to Verizon's 4G Advanced service, said the analyst.

The addition of LTE Advanced and 5G should lower the cost per gigabyte of data by a factor of 10x, explained the analyst, spelling greater savings for Verizon and allowing the company to segment its market by speed and usage.

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