AT&T adds mobile and U-verse subscribers to post Q4 revenue, profit gains

The carrier had a net gain of more than 800,000 wireless subscribers

AT&T financial earnings for the past five quarters

AT&T financial earnings for the past five quarters

AT&T gained subscribers for both its mobile and high-speed wireline services in the fourth quarter, posting revenue and profit increases from a year earlier.

The carrier's revenue rose 1.8 percent to US$33.2 billion. Wireless data was a strong driver in that gain, up 16.8 percent from a year earlier. Total revenue from the company's U-verse high-speed Internet and TV service rose 27.9 percent.

AT&T added 809,000 total wireless subscribers, led by 566,000 postpaid customers, including 299,000 using smartphones. It logged 440,000 net additions of tablet customers. So-called churn, or turnover of customers, hit a fourth-quarter record low of 1.1 percent, the carrier said, despite increasing competitive offers from rivals such as T-Mobile USA.

Profit came in at $1.31 per share, but that included several one-time items, such as a gain from benefit plans. Not counting those, AT&T earned $0.53 per share, up 20.5 percent from $0.44 a year earlier. That exceeded the consensus forecast from financial analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters by $0.03 per share.

AT&T's U-verse high-speed Internet gained 630,000 in the quarter and its related U-verse TV offering added 194,000 subscribers. The Internet service ended the year with 10.7 million subscribers and the TV service with 5.5 million. However, including voice, DSL and other services, wireline revenue fell 1.4 percent from a year earlier.

The company spent $21 billion on capital investments in 2013, which it called the peak year for its Project VIP network buildout that included expansion of its LTE network. AT&T expects to complete its LTE rollout to cover about 300 million people ahead of its target date of the end of 2014, Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said. He said that buildout should be finished by the end of summer, which typically means the beginning of September in the U.S.

This year, AT&T expects revenue growth of 2 percent to 3 percent and capital investment of about $21 billion.

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