Telecom stocks tumbled on Thursday, posting declines while the overall market was slightly positive.
- AT&T down 1.4 percent to trade around $ 31
- Verizon down 3.4 percent to trade around $ 59
- Sprint down 4.3 percent percent to trade around $ 6
- T-Mobile down 3.5 percent to trade around $ 70
For comparison, the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index were both just slightly positive as of Thursday afternoon. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are still trading in the positive over the past 12 months, with shares increasing 22.8 percent, 18.3 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively. AT&T has remained in the negative over the past year, down 13 percent.
The dip among telecom companies may be due to reports of potential setbacks in Sprint and T-Mobile’s merger approval process. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Sprint has privately told regulators that it will not be able to compete effectively in the market if the merger is blocked. Its argument has been met with skepticism from regulators, according to Bloomberg.
Sprint and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
If the deal between Sprint and T-Mobile is approved, the telecom market would slim down from four to three major wireless carriers. While critics worry this will harm competition, the companies argue they will be able to use their combined power to help ready the U.S. for faster 5G networks and compete more effectively with the top two players, AT&T and Verizon. Narrowing the field to three players could lift the industry overall by increasing pricing power.
The FCC paused the informal 180-day “shot clock” to review the $ 26 billion merger deal earlier this month to allow more time for the public to comment on the deal, according to Reuters. The FCC said at the time it typically takes this action after merger applicants submit “substantial” new information and said it expects the process to resume in early April.
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