Why AT&T Fell Short in Q3

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) released its third-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Wednesday. The telecom giant said that it had $0.90 in earnings per share (EPS) and $45.74 billion in revenue. Thomson Reuters consensus estimates had called for $0.94 in EPS and revenue of $45.65 billion, and in the same period of last year the telecom giant said it had EPS of $0.74 and $39.76 billion in revenue.

During the most recent quarter, the company recorded 4.3 million total wireless net additions in North America with 3.4 million in the United States and 907,000 in Mexico.

In the United States, there were 550,000 net adds, consisting of 69,000 postpaid phone net adds and 481,000 prepaid phone net adds. Nearly 750,000 branded smartphones were added to the base. AT&T had a postpaid phone churn of 0.93% in the third quarter.

At the same time, DIRECTV NOW had 49,000 in net adds with 346,000 net losses in traditional video as the company focuses on improving profitability and begins beta tests of a new streaming video device.

AT&T did not offer any guidance for the fourth quarter. However, consensus estimates call for $0.82 in EPS and $48.54 billion in revenue.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T board chair and chief executive, commented:

I’m pleased with the progress we made on a number of fronts in the third quarter. Our U.S. wireless business is growing and it’s the single biggest contributor to our earnings and cash flow. WarnerMedia was immediately accretive in its first full quarter, contributing 5 cents to EPS, and our free cash flow grew by double digits.

We’ve accomplished all this while staying focused on managing our debt portfolio. We’re on track to get to the 2.5x debt-to-EBITDA range by year-end 2019. And as we’re nearing completion of our fiber build and making pricing moves on video, we’re laying the foundation for stabilizing our Entertainment Group profitability in 2019. Across the business, I like our momentum and feel confident that we’re on track to deliver on our plans.

Shares of AT&T closed Tuesday at $33.02, with a consensus analyst price target of $35.48 and a 52-week trading range of $30.13 to $39.33. Following the announcement, the stock was down 4% at $31.69 in early trading indications Wednesday.