Craig Moffett shoots down deal rumors. There's lots of speculation about Verizon buying Charter or Comcast, giving them a local network to support their 5G build. Buying Comcast would cost $240B+, including $58B in debt. Charter would go for a modest $164B+, including $59B debt. They can build their own fiber networks for $5-10B, which looks smarter.

Moffett adds to the doubts by pointing out any deal would hurt Verzon's leverage ratio or dividend coverage. Both are already challenging. They could probably find the money somehow, I believe, but their balance sheet would wind up very ugly.

CFO Ellis in the latest quarterly report writes

  • That it is on track for a return by the 2018-2019 timeframe to the company’s credit-rating profile prior to the acquisition of Vodafone’s indirect 45 percent interest in Verizon Wireless in early 2014.

That would be all but impossible with a large acquisition.

Every part of the company is struggling and much cash flow is going to dividends. They've already cut capex ~20% in recent years, as a percentage of sales. It's hard to see where VZ would find the net income to pay down debt, even if they continue to squeeze down pension contributions.

Craig wrote it well and allowed me to reprint.  

VERIZON: A SOBRIETY TEST - APRIL 24, 2017

A few years ago, as Charter Communications was just beginning its long pursuit of Time Warner Cable, their parent company Liberty Media playfully played a clip from the Rolling Stones at their annual investor day.  The crowd laughed as a young Mick Jagger crooned that “Time, time, time is on my side.”

Now, Verizon is the pursuer, and to hear the company talk, it sounds for all the world that they have their eye on none other than Charter, or perhaps even on Comcast. 

Cue the Rolling Stones one more time.  “You can’t always get what you want.” 

When Verizon’s interest in Charter was first reported in late January, we illustrated the financing hurdles that would make buying Charter so difficult.  Verizon was then caught in a vise of high leverage and an even higher dividend payout ratio.  The more cash rich the offer, the more damage it would do to Verizon’s leverage ratio.  The more equity rich, the more damage it would do to Verizon’s dividend coverage.  There was no mathematical solution at the time for a mix of cash and stock that would keep Verizon’s leverage below 4x EBITDA and its dividend payout ratio below 80% Well, things have only gotten worse since then.  ... an adjusted leverage of about 3.4x – nearly a turn higher than their as-reported leverage.

dave askJuly 2017 Gigabit LTE is real in 2017. So is 5G Massive MIMO. 5G mmWave to fixed antennas is likely 2018, with mobile to follow. China, Japan, Korea, and Verizon U.S. have planned $500B for "5G," with heavy investment expected 2019-2021. 

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Wireless One - W1 replaces 5gwnews.com in July 2017. Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor.