What to Watch For When AT&T Reports Wednesday

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is scheduled to release its most recent quarterly results before the markets open on Wednesday. Thomson Reuters has consensus estimates of $0.94 in earnings per share (EPS) and $45.65 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $0.74 in EPS and $39.76 billion in revenue.

The company announced earlier this month that it will launch its own video streaming business, with program assets it has acquired from its buyout of Time Warner. It has put itself onto on a tough road, currently dominated by Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, which makes its prospects limited.

The company announced in an SEC filing:

On October 10, 2018, we announced plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer (D2C) streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and we are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world. We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers.

Netflix and Amazon each have over 100 million video-streaming customers. They invest billions of dollars in their own programming. On a lesser basis, so does Hulu. And Disney plans to start a similar service. AT&T is very late to this market, and one has to wonder how it will edge out these much larger companies. Streaming may not be a zero-sum game if people are willing to take one more service, but there is no reason to believe that is likely.

Excluding Tuesday’s move, AT&T has underperformed the broad markets, with its stock down 8% in the past 52 weeks. In just 2018 alone, the stock is down 16%.

A few analysts weighed in on the stock ahead of the report:

  • Barclays has a Hold rating with a $33 price target.
  • Deutsche Bank has a Hold rating and a $37 price target.
  • UBS has a Buy rating with a $38 price target.
  • Macquarie has a Buy rating with a $35 price target.
  • Wells Fargo has a Market Perform rating and a $40 target.
  • Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating.

Shares of AT&T were last seen down less than 1% at $32.51, with a consensus analyst price target of $35.48 and a 52-week trading range of $30.13 to $39.33.