AT&T revenue below forecasts, shares fall

Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:20pm EST
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By Malathi Nayak and Abhirup Roy

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, said fourth-quarter revenue grew less than expected as it added fewer mainstream wireless customers than a year ago due to stiffer competition from rivals.

The company's stock fell about 2 percent.

AT&T had 526,000 net new postpaid customers, down 38.4 percent from 854,000 a year earlier. For its prepaid service, the company had 469,000 net new customers, it said on Tuesday.

Total operating revenue rose 22.3 percent to $42.12 billion, slightly missing analysts' average estimate of $42.75 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Earnings of 63 cents, excluding certain items, were in line with analysts' forecasts.

Average revenue per postpaid wireless customer fell 2 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

AT&T has been seeking new revenue streams and is betting on its 2015 acquisition of the DirecTV satellite TV business to help beef up its bundles of cellular, broadband, TV and fixed-line phone services. It has expanded in Mexico after the recent purchase of the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers in that country.

Earlier this month, AT&T introduced an unlimited wireless data plan for subscribers of its DirecTV or AT&T U-Verse home television service. In a period of two weeks, half a million subscribers have signed up for unlimited data, executives said on a conference call after the earnings release.

AT&T said it gained 214,000 DirecTV customers, while 240,000 left its U-Verse TV service.   Continued...

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