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If you had invested in Verizon 10 years ago, here's how much you'd have now

Pedestrians cross Herald Square in front of a Verizon Wireless store in New York.
Richard Levine | Corbis | Getty Images

On Friday, Verizon released third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations. In Q3 alone, the wireless phone carrier added 615,000 more postpaid customers, or those who are billed at the end of each month, and 444,000 prepaid subscribers.

Not only is the addition of over a million new users a good thing for business, it's also a positive for Verizon stock and shareholders.

If you invested in Verizon 10 years ago, that decision would have paid off. A $1,000 investment in 2009 would be worth nearly $3,500 as of Oct. 28, 2019, for a total return of around 250%, according to CNBC calculations. In the same time frame, by comparison, the S&P 500 earned a total return of nearly 260%. Verizon's current share price is hovering around $60.

However, while an investment in Verizon would have earned you a profit, it's important to note you would have been better off buying a low-cost index fund that tracks the market since the shares underperformed the return of the S&P 500.

While Verizon's stock performance over the last decade couldn't match that of the S&P 500's, any individual stock can over- or underperform and past returns do not predict future results. There are several factors that have contributed to Verizon's lackluster stock performance such as some acquisitions in the last 10 years like AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017.

CNBC: Verizon's stock as of October 28, 2019.

Verizon's most competitive rivals are AT&T, T-Mobile U.S. and Sprint. When it comes to subscribers, Verizon and AT&T remain close in number. In Q3 of 2018, Verizon had nearly 154 million U.S. subscribers and AT&T had just over 150 million, according to industry reporting from Fierce Wireless.

Verizon's recent uptick in monthly subscribers resulted in part from the carrier creating new unlimited plans with lower prices. The cheapest of the four new plans starts at $35.

The company is also offering a free one-year subscription for Disney's soon-to-launch Disney+ streaming service to new and existing Verizon wireless unlimited customers. Not only does Verizon hope this offer will incentivize new customers, but industry experts say it's also a way of offsetting the expected success of HBO Max, a new streaming service that AT&T plans to launch in 2020.

On the day of the announcement last week, Verizon's stock rose modestly, while shares of Disney jumped more than 1.5%.

In 2017, Verizon began trying out its 5G coverage, the fifth generation of wireless network capabilities, which promises quicker speeds, less lag time and better overall service.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon.
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

In April 2019, Verizon became the first carrier to officially offer 5G after setting it live in Chicago and Minneapolis. Since then, Verizon has continued its 5G expansion, and on Friday the carrier announced 5G is now live in Dallas and Omaha, Nebraska.

In August, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC that half of the U.S. will have access to 5G wireless technology by 2020. And by 2024, half of the U.S. population "will actually have a 5G phone," Vestberg said on "Squawk Box."

This isn't the first time Verizon has led the charge on advancing America's mobile networks. In 2010, it announced that it would launch the world's first large-scale 4G LTE network. The company started by turning on the network within 38 U.S. cities and continued aggressively expanding 4G in the U.S. through 2013.

If you are considering getting into investing, experts, including Warren Buffett, often advise starting with index funds, which hold all of the companies in an index, such as the S&P 500. Because index funds fluctuate with the market and aren't tied to the performance of a single business, they're less risky than individual stocks, making them a safer choice for beginners.

Here's a snapshot of how the markets look now.

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