) recently announced the deployment of its 8000
compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle, consistent with its plan of
deploying 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles by 2018.
Apart from CNG vehicles, AT&T currently owns hybrid
electric, all electric and extended-range electric vehicles,
representing a total fleet of more than 10,000 alternative fuel
vehicles, spread across 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of
The company's commitment toward maintaining a fuel efficient
fleet represents its efforts to not only support environmental
causes but also improve its cost structure and increase
AT&T strategic initiatives to improve its cost structure
have helped the company to consolidate its balance sheet. The
company has the strongest balance sheet in the industry with net
debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of 1.74 times at the end of
A solid balance sheet facilitates investment plans and strategic
acquisitions, while also allowing return of substantial value to
shareholders through attractive dividends and share buybacks. In
2013, the company repurchased 366 million shares worth $13.0
billion. In the first quarter, the company repurchased another 37
million shares for $1.2 billion.
Since 2012, the company has bought back nearly 737 million
shares, representing 12% of its outstanding shares. In addition,
AT&T paid nearly $10 billion in dividend payments in 2013.
During the first quarter of this year, the company returned
approximately $2.4 billion to its shareholders through dividend
In Dec 2013, the company raised its dividend by 2.2% to 46 cents
from 45 cents paid earlier, representing the 30
consecutive annual increase in quarterly dividend. On an annualized
basis, the dividend payment amounts to $1.84, up from $1.80. In the
past two years, the company's shareholder return remains foremost
in the industry with more than $45 billion returned in total
through dividends and share repurchases.
Going forward, the company also expects to invest $21 billion in
infrastructural development in 2014 despite maintaining a strong
and free cash flow estimate of $11 billion in 2014. AT&T
currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Other stocks worth considering within this sector are
Level 3 Communications Inc.
TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC
). All these stocks currently carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong
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