Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) saw some unusual options trading activity on Monday. Traders acquired 920 put options on the stock. This represents an increase of approximately 100% compared to the typical volume of 460 put options.

Several research firms recently weighed in on VZ. Argus lowered shares of Verizon Communications from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, April 21st. Bank of America Corporation restated a “buy” rating on shares of Verizon Communications in a research report on Saturday, June 17th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Verizon Communications from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, April 25th. Instinet restated a “neutral” rating and set a $46.00 price target (down previously from $47.00) on shares of Verizon Communications in a research report on Sunday, April 23rd. Finally, Vetr upgraded shares of Verizon Communications from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $52.26 price target for the company in a research report on Monday, March 27th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twenty-five have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $53.59.

Shares of Verizon Communications (NYSE VZ) opened at 45.41 on Thursday. The company has a 50-day moving average of $46.07 and a 200-day moving average of $49.11. The stock has a market capitalization of $185.24 billion, a P/E ratio of 15.19 and a beta of 0.56. Verizon Communications has a 52 week low of $44.46 and a 52 week high of $56.95.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 20th. The cell phone carrier reported $0.95 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.98 by $0.03. Verizon Communications had a return on equity of 66.99% and a net margin of 9.92%. The business had revenue of $29.81 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $30.41 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $1.06 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 7.3% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts anticipate that Verizon Communications will post $3.75 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, August 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, July 10th will be paid a $0.5775 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, July 6th. This represents a $2.31 annualized dividend and a yield of 5.09%. Verizon Communications’s payout ratio is 77.00%.

In related news, EVP Marni M. Walden sold 16,362 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, May 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $46.08, for a total transaction of $753,960.96. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 11,797 shares in the company, valued at $543,605.76. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, EVP Craig L. Silliman sold 610 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.34, for a total transaction of $27,657.40. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 9,039 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $409,828.26. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 18,192 shares of company stock valued at $840,801. 0.13% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Clearbridge Investments LLC increased its position in Verizon Communications by 1.8% in the first quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 7,651,193 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $372,996,000 after buying an additional 133,038 shares during the last quarter. TrueNorth Inc. acquired a new position in Verizon Communications during the first quarter valued at $239,000. Laurel Wealth Advisors Inc. increased its position in Verizon Communications by 2.9% in the first quarter. Laurel Wealth Advisors Inc. now owns 77,046 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $3,756,000 after buying an additional 2,165 shares during the last quarter. Perigon Wealth Management LLC increased its position in Verizon Communications by 3.5% in the first quarter. Perigon Wealth Management LLC now owns 57,858 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $2,821,000 after buying an additional 1,980 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Franklin Parlapiano Turner & Welch LLC acquired a new position in Verizon Communications during the first quarter valued at $136,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.53% of the company’s stock.

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Verizon Communications Company Profile

Verizon Communications Inc is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. Its segments include Wireless and Wireline. The Wireless segment offers communications products and services, including wireless voice and data services and equipment sales, to consumer, business and government customers across the United States.

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