) reported 3rd quarter earnings after the bell Wednesday. That's
the bell, apparently just to shake things up a bit. The seminal
telecom firm posted EPS of 66 cents, topping the Zacks Consensus
Estimate by a penny. Revenues were in-line with estimates at
roughly $32.2 billion in the quarter.
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AT&T's U-verse (digital TV, Internet, mobile) revenues,
including business, was up 28% year over year. U-verse now
constitutes the company's fastest-growing segment. It also
reported the addition of 1.2 million new smartphone subscribers
over the past year, which now makes up 89% of AT&T's postpaid
phone sales -- a new record.
It's been a tough few quarters for AT&T. This is the first
positive earnings surprise since Q3 2012. And analysts had been
downwardly revising estimates for Q3, Q4, fiscal 2013 and 2014,
sending the stock down to a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). So though it
may just be a beat by a penny, Ma Bell investors are likely
pretty OK. Shares were up slightly during regular trading (on a
relatively weak day for the market overall), and they are inching
up in after-hours as well.
But all this earnings talk is really just the tip of the iceberg
with regard to AT&T and the telecom industry in general,
which has had no shortage of interesting narratives of late.
AT&T alone has announced this week it will be the exclusive
) new Lumia 1520 smartphone, and will also support Nokia's new
tablet offering coming out this holiday season. This follows last
weekend's announcement that AT&T is selling $4.85 billion in
cell tower assets to
). It remains to be seen what the company plans to do with the
new cash on hand, but the total dollar amount might be just
enough to cover AT&T's buyout of
), first announced this past July.
To say nothing of
) finally having absorbed full control over its wireless division
by buying out European telecom
) for a cool $130 billion (!),
) being bought by Japan's SoftBank, and AT&T's own failed bid
to take over
) just a couple short years ago. I mean, wow -- pass the popcorn!
AT&T's 5.2% dividend yield is the best on the Dow. It's stock
price, while down a bit from its peak last spring, is nonetheless
still in range of its multi-year highs. It's nice to see a
psotive earnings surprise for a change, but it seems like the
real surprises for this company -- and this industry -- are still