AT&T posts better earnings figures than expected for Q4

By Barbara Ortutay, AP

NEW YORK –AT&Tposted stronger-than-expected earnings for the final quarter of 2013, helped by higher revenue from mobile and Internet service subscribers.

The nation’s biggest telecommunications company said Tuesday that it earned US$6.9 billion, or US$1.31 per share, in the October-December period. That’s up from a loss of US$3.8 billion, or 68 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

The latest quarter’s results included a pension-related gain of US$7.6 billion, tax expenses and other items. Excluding these items, adjusted earnings were 53 cents per share in the latest quarter, beating analysts’ expectations by 2 cents. The year-ago results included a loss of US$10 billion related to pension accounting.

Revenue rose 2 percent to US$33.2 billion from US$32.6 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting revenue of US$33.1 billion, according to FactSet.

Wireless revenue, which includes equipment sales, grew 5 percent to US$18.4 billion from US$17.6 billion.

AT&T said it added 809,000 net wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter. It added 566,000 wireless devices to its contract-based plans, which are the most lucrative. Of these 299,000 were smartphones and the rest tablets, which carry lower monthly fees than phones. AT&T is the second largest cellphone company in the U.S. after Verizon Wireless.

Churn, or the turnover rate for contract-based subscribers, was 1.11 percent during the quarter, down from 1.19 percent a year earlier.