AT&T posts Q4 2011 numbers, touts smartphone sales totaling 9.4 millionAlex Wagner - Senior News Editor
It was just a couple of days ago that Verizon was the carrier to kick off a string of Q4 2011 earnings reports, and today AT&T has continued that trend with a release of its own. The carrier's consolidated revenues for the fourth quarter were up $1.1 billion year over year, finishing at $32.5 billion. On the subscriber side of things, AT&T added a total 2.5 million customers in Q4, consisting of 717,000 postpaid subscribers; 159,000 prepaid users; 1,029,000 connected devices; and 529,000 reseller adds. AT&T now claims to have 103.2 million total subs.
The final quarter of 2011 brought with it record smartphone sales for AT&T, with a 9.4 million smartphones being sold in Q4, a figure that's nearly double that from the third quarter. More than 7.6 million of those sales were iPhones, most of which were the new iPhone 4S. AT&T also notes that it sold more iPhones than Verizon in 2011, claiming a total of 17.5 million iPhones sold last year compared to 10.8 million Verizon iPhones. As for Android, AT&T didn't provide specific sales figures, but it did say that "more than twice as many" Android devices were sold in Q4 2011 than were sold in Q4 2010.
Overall it sounds like AT&T had a pretty good quarter for itself, although the carrier did note that it lost a total of $6.7 billion during the quarter, most of which is likely attributable to that breakup fee it had to fork over to T-Mobile after the acquisition deal between the two fell through. Want to read further into AT&T's Q4 2011 figures? You can find the full nitty-gritty right here.
Best-Ever Mobile Broadband Sales and Strong Cash Flows Highlight AT&T's Fourth-Quarter Results; Stock Buyback Begins on Previous 300 Million Share Authorization
2012 Outlook: Solid Revenue, Margins and Earnings Growth with Strong Free Cash Flow
Dallas, Texas, January 26, 2012
$(1.12) diluted EPS in fourth quarter compared to $0.18 diluted EPS in the year-ago period. Excluding significant items for both quarters, EPS of $0.42 compared to $0.55 in the year-ago quarter, driven by the company's best-ever quarter for smartphone activations — up nearly 60 percent year over year
Consolidated revenues of $32.5 billion, up $1.1 billion, or 3.6 percent, versus the year-earlier period
In 2011, AT&T's growth engines — wireless, wireline data and managed services — represented 76 percent of total revenues and grew 7.5 percent versus 2010, led in the fourth quarter by:
10.0 percent growth in wireless revenues
19.4 percent growth in wireless data revenues, up $956 million versus the year-earlier quarter
16.4 percent growth in strategic business services revenues
43.7 percent growth in consumer U-verse revenues
9.4 million smartphone sales, best-ever quarter and 50 percent more than previous quarterly record and nearly double 3Q11 sales; 82 percent of postpaid sales were smartphones
717,000 wireless postpaid net adds, the largest increase in five quarters; 2.5 million increase in total net wireless subscribers, with gains in every customer category
Best-ever quarter for Android and Apple smartphones, including 7.6 million iPhone activations
571,000 branded computing device (tablets, aircards, etc.) sales, best-ever quarter to reach 5.1 million total subscribers; up almost 70 percent from a year ago
12th consecutive quarter with a year-over-year increase in postpaid wireless subscriber ARPU (average monthly revenues per subscriber), up 1.4 percent to $63.76 — more than $6 higher than nearest competitor's ARPU
Second consecutive quarter of sequential growth in wireline business revenues
Sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in wireline consumer revenues, driven by AT&T U-verse® services
208,000 net gain in AT&T U-verse TV subscribers to reach 3.8 million in service, with continued high broadband and voice attach rates
Note: AT&T's fourth-quarter earnings conference call will be broadcast live via the Internet at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at www.att.com/investor.relations.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today reported fourth-quarter results highlighted by record sales, strong wireless network performance and improved wireline revenue trends.
"We had a tremendous year in terms of execution, and we have excellent momentum across our growth platforms," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer."This was a blowout quarter for sales. Our network performance is at a high level on voice quality and best-in-class mobile download speeds. Sales continue to be strong and business revenue trends are on a good track.
"Looking ahead, we start 2012 with the best visibility we've had in some time, and we're well positioned to deliver solid results — including continued revenue growth with margin expansion, solid earnings per share growth and strong cash flow," Stephenson said."In short order, we will begin share repurchases to deliver significant value to our owners."
Fourth-Quarter Financial Results
For the quarter ended December 31, 2011, AT&T's consolidated revenues totaled $32.5 billion, up $1.1 billion, or 3.6 percent, versus the year-earlier quarter.
Compared with the fourth quarter of 2010, operating expenses were $41.5 billion versus $29.3 billion; operating loss was $9.0 billion, compared to operating income of $2.1 billion; and AT&T's operating income margin was (27.7) percent, compared to 6.7 percent. Excluding fourth-quarter significant items, operating expenses were $28.1 billion versus $25.8 billion; operating income was $4.4 billion, compared to $5.6 billion; and operating income margin was 13.5 percent, compared to 17.7 percent.
Fourth-quarter 2011 net income attributable to AT&T totaled $(6.7) billion, or $(1.12) per diluted share. Excluding significant non-cash charges of $0.65 from the actuarial loss on benefit plans and $0.48 for directory asset impairments, along with a one-time charge of $0.44 for termination of the T-Mobile USA acquisition and a one-time gain of $0.03 from a tax settlement, adjusted earnings per share was $0.42.
(The actuarial loss on benefit plans was driven by a reduction in the discount rate from 5.8 percent to 5.3 percent. While our investment returns were better than the overall market, they were less than expectations; this was largely offset by better-than-expected force and medical cost management. The directory asset impairment resulted from an annual review of intangible assets compared to fair value.)
These results compare with reported net income attributable to AT&T of $1.1 billion, or $0.18 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2010. Excluding significant items, earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2010 was $0.55 per diluted share.
Fourth-quarter 2011 cash from operating activities totaled $7.5 billion, and capital expenditures totaled $5.5 billion. Also included in the fourth quarter, the company made a $1.0 billion contribution to the company's pension fund. No additional funding is required in 2012. Free cash flow — cash from operating activities minus capital expenditures — totaled $2.0 billion.
For the full year 2011, compared with 2010 results, AT&T's consolidated revenues totaled $126.7 billion versus $124.3 billion, up 2.0 percent; operating expenses were $117.5 billion, compared with $104.7 billion; net income attributable to AT&T was $3.9 billion versus $19.9 billion; and earnings per diluted share was $0.66 compared with $3.35. Excluding significant items, earnings per share totaled $2.20, compared with $2.29.
Compared with 2010 results, AT&T's full-year cash from operating activities totaled $34.6 billion, down from $35.0 billion. Capital expenditures, including capitalized interest, totaled $20.3 billion versus $20.3 billion, including a 6.4 percent increase in wireless-related capital investment versus 2010, as AT&T aggressively deployed next-generation mobile broadband networks. Free cash flow totaled $14.4 billion, compared with $14.7 billion.
AT&T is well positioned to deliver solid revenue and earnings growth with improving margins while returning substantial value to shareowners. In 2012, AT&T expects continued consolidated revenue growth, including postpaid wireless ARPU growth around 2 percent for the year. The company also expects to expand consolidated and wireless margins while keeping wireline margins stable. Achieving these targets will lead to mid-single-digit or better earnings growth with an opportunity to accelerate earnings growth beyond 2012. Outlook excludes any significant items. Importantly, little economic lift is assumed with these expectations.
AT&T expects capital expenditures to be about $20 billion, stable with 2011, as increases in wireless spending offset declines in wireline capital expenditures. The company also expects strong free cash flow, with full-year free cash flow in the $15 to $16 billion range, and plans to begin execution of its existing 300 million share repurchase authorization immediately.
WIRELESS OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Record-setting mobile broadband sales and the company's best postpaid subscriber growth in five quarters drove double-digit wireless revenue growth. AT&T continues to lead the industry in smartphone penetration, mobile broadband sales and postpaid ARPU. Highlights included:
Best Postpaid Growth in Five Quarters. AT&T posted a net increase in total wireless subscribers of 2.5 million in the fourth quarter to reach 103.2 million in service. This included gains in every customer category. Subscriber additions for the quarter include postpaid net adds of 717,000, the best gain in five quarters. Prepaid net adds were 159,000, connected device net adds were 1,029,000 and reseller net adds were 592,000. Fourth-quarter net adds reflect accelerated adoption of smartphones, including the October launch of iPhone 4S, increases in prepaid and reseller subscribers and sales of tablets and connected devices such as automobile monitoring systems, security systems and a host of other emerging products.
Record Quarter for Smartphone Sales. AT&T delivered its best-ever smartphone sales quarter — up nearly 60 percent from the year-ago period. (Smartphones are devices with voice and data capabilities and an advanced operating system to better manage data and Internet access.) In the fourth quarter, the company set a new record with 9.4 million smartphones sold, nearly double the number sold in the third quarter and 50 percent more than the previous quarterly record. Fourth-quarter smartphone sales represented more than 80 percent of postpaid device sales. Both iPhone and Android device sales set records. During the quarter, more than 7.6 million iPhones were activated, the majority of which were iPhone 4S, which went on sale Oct. 14, and more than twice as many Android smartphones were sold versus the fourth quarter a year ago. iPhone sales were helped by a superior customer experience, with AT&T delivering download speeds up to three-times faster than on other U.S. carriers' networks.
At the end of the quarter, 56.8 percent of AT&T's 69.3 million postpaid subscribers had smartphones, up from 42.7 percent a year earlier and 32.8 percent two years ago. The average ARPU for smartphones on AT&T's network is 1.9 times that of the company's non-smartphone devices. About 87 percent of smartphone subscribers are on FamilyTalk® or business plans. Churn levels for these subscribers are significantly lower than for other postpaid subscribers.
Best-Ever Quarter for Branded Computing Device Sales. AT&T had its best sales quarter ever for branded computing subscribers, a new growth area for the company that includes tablets, aircards, mobile devices, tethering plans and other data-only devices. AT&T added 571,000 of these devices to reach 5.1 million, an almost 70 percent increase in total subscribers from a year ago. Most of those new subscribers were tablets, with 311,000 added in the quarter, more than half of which were postpaid.
Double-Digit Growth for Wireless Revenues. Total wireless revenues, which include equipment sales, were up 10.0 percent year over year to $16.7 billion. Wireless service revenues increased 4.0 percent, to $14.3 billion, in the fourth quarter.
Wireless Data Revenues Increase 19.4 Percent. Wireless data revenues — driven by Internet access, access to applications, messaging and related services — increased by $956 million, or 19.4 percent, from the year-earlier quarter to $5.9 billion. AT&T's postpaid wireless subscribers on monthly data plans increased by 16.4 percent over the past year. The number of subscribers on tiered data plans also continues to increase. About 22 million, or 56 percent, of all smartphone subscribers are on tiered data plans, and about 70 percent have chosen the higher-tier plans.
Industry-Leading Postpaid ARPU Continues Growth. Driven by strong data growth, postpaid subscriber ARPU increased 1.4 percent versus the year-earlier quarter to $63.76. This marked the 12th consecutive quarter AT&T has posted a year-over-year increase in postpaid ARPU. AT&T continues to lead the industry with postpaid subscriber ARPU about $6 higher than the nearest competitor. Postpaid data ARPU reached $26.01, up 14.9 percent versus the year-earlier quarter.
Postpaid Churn Up Only Slightly. Despite record smartphone sales and the first holiday sales period since the loss of AT&T's iPhone exclusivity, postpaid churn was up only slightly at 1.21 percent, compared to 1.15 percent in both the year-ago fourth quarter and in the third quarter of 2011. Total churn was up slightly at 1.39 percent versus 1.32 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 1.28 percent in the third quarter of 2011.
Wireless Margins Reflect Record Sales. Fourth-quarter wireless margins reflect record-setting smartphone sales and customer upgrade levels. This was offset in part by improved operating efficiencies and further revenue gains from the company's growing base of high-quality smartphone subscribers.
AT&T's fourth-quarter wireless operating income margin was 15.2 percent versus 22.9 percent in the year-earlier quarter, and AT&T's wireless EBITDA service margin was 28.7 percent, compared with 37.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. (EBITDA service margin is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, divided by total service revenues.) Fourth-quarter wireless operating expenses totaled $14.2 billion, up 20.9 percent versus the year-earlier quarter, and wireless operating income was $2.5 billion, down 27.0 percent year over year.