First Merchants Corp cut its stake in Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) by 1.7% during the first quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 40,785 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock after selling 710 shares during the period. First Merchants Corp’s holdings in Verizon Communications were worth $1,989,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

A number of other institutional investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in VZ. Sunbelt Securities Inc. purchased a new position in Verizon Communications during the fourth quarter valued at about $115,000. Tortoise Investment Management LLC increased its stake in Verizon Communications by 35.3% in the fourth quarter. Tortoise Investment Management LLC now owns 2,609 shares of the cell phone carrier’s stock valued at $139,000 after buying an additional 680 shares during the last quarter. Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $155,000. Portfolio Solutions LLC bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the first quarter valued at approximately $179,000. Finally, Feltz Wealth PLAN Inc. bought a new stake in Verizon Communications during the first quarter valued at approximately $184,000. 62.33% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Shares of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) traded down 0.42% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $47.69. 16,919,130 shares of the company traded hands. The company has a market capitalization of $194.55 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.26 and a beta of 0.56. Verizon Communications Inc. has a 52 week low of $42.80 and a 52 week high of $54.83. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $46.01 and its 200-day moving average is $47.29.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The cell phone carrier reported $0.96 EPS for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.96. The business had revenue of $30.55 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $29.84 billion. Verizon Communications had a net margin of 12.88% and a return on equity of 63.06%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up .1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.94 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts predict that Verizon Communications Inc. will post $3.79 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, August 1st. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 10th were issued a dividend of $0.5775 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 6th. This represents a $2.31 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.84%. Verizon Communications’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 59.23%.

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VZ has been the subject of several research reports. TheStreet upgraded shares of Verizon Communications from a “c+” rating to a “b-” rating in a research note on Tuesday, August 8th. Vetr upgraded shares of Verizon Communications from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $46.82 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, May 17th. Bank of America Corporation reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $59.00 price objective on shares of Verizon Communications in a research note on Friday, April 28th. Barclays PLC lowered their price objective on shares of Verizon Communications from $49.00 to $47.00 and set an “equal weight” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $48.00 price objective on shares of Verizon Communications in a research note on Friday, April 21st. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, twenty-two have issued a hold rating, five have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $52.73.

In other news, EVP Craig L. Silliman sold 610 shares of Verizon Communications stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.00, for a total transaction of $27,450.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 8,429 shares in the company, valued at $379,305. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 1,830 shares of company stock valued at $84,229. Insiders own 0.13% of the company’s stock.

About Verizon Communications

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.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ)

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