AT&T Matches Profit Estimates, Broadband Strong

AT&T reported a third-quarter operating profit Thursday that was in line with consensus estimates. The company cited strength in its wireless and mobile broadband businesses, while iPhone sales beat Wall Street expectations.


AT&T reported a profit, excluding one-time tax gains, of 55 cents a share for the three months ended September, up from a comparable profit of 53 cents a share in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose 2.8 percent from the same quarter a year ago to $31.6 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a profit of 55 cents a share on revenue of $31.2 billion.

The company reported a net gain of 2.6 million wireless subscribers for the quarter.

"That number, in terms of new wireless contract numbers, is generally in line with what we on the Street were expecting," Christopher King, director and analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, told CNBC.

AT&T is a "very sold free-cash-flow generating machine at this point," King added. "We certainly believe the dividend is entirely safe for the foreseeable future."

The company, which is expected to lose exclusive U.S. rights to sell Apple's iPhone next year, said 5.2 million customers activated iPhones in the quarter compared with the average analyst expectation for about 4.8 million.

Shares of the company were little changed in before-hours trading.

“This was a terrific mobile broadband quarter,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. “A record number of customers signed new two-year contracts and integrated device sales outpaced our previous best by a wide margin. Wireless revenues continue to grow (and) churn is reaching record low levels."

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-- Reuters contributed to this report