AT&T's results match Street expectations, smartphone subscriber base grows

Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:45pm EST
 
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By Anjali Athavaley and Anna Driver

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote), the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, reported quarterly results that matched analysts' estimates, as it added more smartphone customers in a saturated wireless market, and said it was confident its deal to buy Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: Quote) would be approved.

AT&T is banking on the deal to boost its media offerings such as over-the-top services and to gain control of cable channels like HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros. The company bought DirecTV in 2015 as part of its plans to diversify from its wireless phone business, which has faced stiff competition from smaller rivals T-Mobile U.S. Inc TMUS.O and Sprint Corp (S.N: Quote).

"AT&T has made some big bets to reposition its portfolio away from the wireless business, but the businesses that they have accumulated isn't growing either," MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said.

The company said it added 1.1 million smartphones to its subscriber base in the fourth quarter.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he opposed the company's proposed acquisition of Time Warner during his election campaign.

Thirteen Democratic senators on Wednesday asked AT&T to explain how its planned $85.4 billion takeover is in the public interest.

"We look forward to bringing Time Warner into the fold and doing some very unique things with media and entertainment and content," Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on a conference call with analysts. The company expects the deal to close later this year.

He also said a lower corporate tax rate was likely under the new administration and that he was optimistic about the appointment of net neutrality opponent Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission.   Continued...

 
Signage for an AT&T store is seen in New York October 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo