AT&T results beat Wall Street, shares rise after hours

Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:04pm EST
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By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) on Tuesday posted a quarterly net loss that was slightly slimmer than Wall Street expected, as its mobile device deals attracted more customers, but its users switched to other networks at a higher rate.

AT&T shares rose about 2 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $32.81 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The second-largest U.S. wireless carrier posted a net loss of $4 billion, or 77 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with net income $6.9 billion, or $1.31 per share, a year ago. The loss was partly the result of $10 billion in charges related to pension and retiree benefit plans that it had announced this month.

Excluding items, AT&T earned 55 cents per share, beating analysts' forecasts by a penny.

The company said postpaid churn, or the rate of customer defections, rose to 1.22 percent and average revenue per phone user declined 10.7 percent from a year earlier.

While postpaid churn had risen since last year, it was comparable to 2012, AT&T executives told analysts on an earnings call. Both 2012 and 2014 saw the launch of numbered Apple phones, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, they added.

Faced with intense competition and promotional activity, wireless carriers have moved from two-year contract plans to equipment financing plans, which reduce service fees and eliminate subsidies for devices.

"Equipment sales were 13 percent better than consensus but service revenues which is really their real business were 2.7 percent light in wireless," Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson said.   Continued...

An AT&T Logo is pictured on the side of a building in Pasadena, California, January 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni