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AT&T earnings meet expectations, but revenue falls short

Rachel Cao

AT&T (NYSE:T) reported quarterly earnings that met analysts' expectations on Tuesday, but revenue disappointed.

Here's how the company did compared with what Wall Street was expecting, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates:

  • EPS: 74 cents vs. 74 cents expected
  • Revenue: $39.37 billion vs. $40.53 billion expected
  • 2.7 million wireless network adds, more than the 2.08 million predicted by StreetAccount estimates.

The company posted first-quarter earnings per share of 74 cents on revenue of $39.37 billion. Analysts expected earnings of 74 cents a share on revenue of $40.53 billion, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

Those figures compare with the 72 cents a share on revenue of $40.5 billion that AT&T reported in the year-earlier quarter.

The company said it saw record-low equipment sales in wireless, which contributed to the year-over-year drop in revenue.

The company's shares were last up more than 1 percent in extended trading.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson acknowledged the telecommunication giant's intention to have a 5G rollout.

"The strategic moves we've made over the last few months to expand our wireless capacity and fortify our 5G leadership will be felt for years to come," Stephenson said in the report.

AT&T reported 2.7 million wireless network adds, more than the 2.08 million predicted by StreetAccount estimates.

In the conference call, Stephenson acknowledged that AT&T's response to unlimited plans was "probably a little slow" in an "already competitive market".

The CEO also touched upon the pending Time Warner acquisition, saying that he expects an approval.

"As we bring Time Warner in the family, we are convinced we can really enhance Time Warner's revenue streams by virtue of customer data and viewership data on the distribution side of the house," Stephenson said.

The Street was anxiously looking toward the Dallas-based company's quarterly report after Verizon's (VZ) miss on earnings last week.

AT&T reported that it lost 191,000 postpaid phone subscribers, compared with Verizon reporting a net drop of 289,000 postpaid wireless subscribers, as competition in the quarter tightened up with the market for unlimited data plans. It was the first time both companies had lost wireless customers.

Until earlier Tuesday, AT&T was on course to acquire Straight Path Communications for $1.6 billion as the telecommunication company's latest push ahead of a 5G rollout, the next generation of high-speed wireless services. However, Straight Path said Tuesday that it received an offer from a "multinational telecommunications company" that topped AT&T's. The telecom acknowledged that it knows about the offer and will evaluate how to respond. The company will have 5 days to answer Straight Path.

Investors were also looking for AT&T to reveal how many subscribers it's been able to attract to DirecTV Now, the pay-TV streaming service launched in late November as a way to combat the decline in cable- and pay-TV subscriptions. The report stated that the gains in their DirecTV Now service helped offset the TV subscriber decline, but it didn't disclose the specific number of subscribers it gained in the first quarter.

As of the Tuesday close, shares of AT&T have dropped 6 percent so far this year.

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