AT&T Hits Record Smartphone Sales in Q4, But Loses $3.9 Billion

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-01-24 Print this article Print

AT&T officials announced Jan. 22 a $780 million deal to buy the Alltel brand from Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI), including Atllte’s licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 585,000 subscribers. The deal also will bring AT&T spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz and 1900MHz bands.

There also has been speculation about AT&T interest in buying a carrier in Europe—particularly in the wake of its failed attempt to buy T-Mobile—in hopes of expanding its business farther beyond the United States and find more lucrative markets. Stephenson during the conference call noted that the United States is several years ahead of European countries in wireless services, and that “most people expect the rest of the world will catch up.” Being a significant player in that effort to catch up to the United States would help AT&T, he said.

“It is not the first time AT&T has looked into the European market, yet no major deal has been finalized to this point,” wrote TBR analyst Costa. “This type of deal would allow AT&T to access markets outside the U.S. to broaden its global reach and capitalize on new revenue streams to grow its business. AT&T would be able to rapidly deploy LTE across the acquisitions footprint, allowing the operator to quickly monetize the acquired assets and take advantage of new pricing schemes.”

There also are risks involved with an expansion into Europe, including a challenging economic situation in the Eurozone and a more intense regulatory environment, he said.

In the United States, AT&T—like most companies—is having to deal with an uncertain political and economic climate, particularly with the dysfunction occurring in Washington D.C., though CFO John Stephens said the company has a plan to grow revenues regardless of what happens in Congress.

Stephenson said that for 2013, earnings per share will grow in the range of upper single digits, with revenue growing more than 2 percent.


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