The Verizon iPhone has finally arrived. But today’s announcement, which has been a long time coming, had almost no effect on the stock price of any company involved.
The net result on the stock market was pretty weak because the industry widely expected this move for some time. Each company’s share price essentially had an iPhone 4 release on Verizon priced into its outlook, so there wasn’t a lot of room to take off in either direction.
The last official announcement about the iPhone — the release of the iPhone 4 — also failed to do much for Apple’s share price because the device had already been outed by tech news site Gizmodo. The same goes for when Apple started up its bumper program in response to concerns about a design flaw that was killing the iPhone 4’s reception. Anticipation was built into the stock price both times, and the same thing happened today.
Shares of Apple were flat after making a strong run up over the past few days. The iPhone manufacturer’s shares were up about 1.7 percent from a closing price of around $336 on Friday, when the media buzz for the iPhone took off. Apple has the most to gain from the announcement, as it now has access to an even wider subscriber base.
Shares of AT&T, which sold the iPhone exclusively for several years, were down about 1.4 percent to $27.94 shortly after Verizon made the announcement. Many analysts on Wall Street expect AT&T users to flock to Verizon, which is typically seen to have a more reliable network. Analysts with Credit Suisse expect AT&T to lose as many as 1.4 million subscribers to Verizon in the first year of the Verizon iPhone’s release. AT&T’s shares are down 2.7 percent from a closing price of $28.86 on Friday.
Google’s shares edged up slightly with the announcement despite some expectations that they would suffer when Verizon announced it would sell the iPhone 4. Verizon relied on powerful devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system to compete with AT&T’s iPhone, and was pretty successful. Shares of Google were up about 0.5 percent to $617.24.
Shares of Verizon Communications, which owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone, which owns the rest of the company, were both down on the announcement. Verizon Communications’ shares fell 2.1 percent to $35.16, and Vodafone’s shares fell 1.1 percent to $27.39. That’s because most analysts peg the initial cost of the Verizon iPhone to be about $5 billion in subsidies to Verizon Wireless — something that isn’t going to please shareholders initially.
Despite the media frenzy surrounding the Verizon iPhone, options activity — which basically lets traders make a bet as to whether the stock is going to go up or down and reserve a price ahead of that — also remained relatively limited. Call option trading, which assumes the stock is headed up, still outweighed put option trading — which bets in the opposite direction.
What’s also a bit of a muddling factor in the equation is the presence of earnings season — a period of time when most companies release their quarterly earnings reports. Some major companies like Sears and Alcoa have already reported strong earnings, pushing the market up across the board. Multiple bellwhethers like Intel and Apple will release their earnings in the next couple of weeks. Both could easily overshadow the actual effect of the Verizon iPhone on each company’s share prices.
There also weren’t a lot of surprises at today’s Verizon iPhone announcement. Each stock price reflected that. But expect to see trading pick up ahead of Apple’s recent quarterly earnings, which will include holiday sales of its newest line-up of iPods and other devices. Apple will release its latest earnings report next Monday.