AT&T chief sees slowdown

AT&T's shares tumbled after chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson bared that the telecom carrier is experiencing some slowdown in its broadband and traditional wire phone sales to consumers, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report also quoted Stephenson as saying that the bulk of the weakness is coming from service disconnections due to nonpayment on those lines.

AT&T's shares fell $1.87, or 4.6%, to close at $39.16, bouncing off an initial dive that sent the stock down 9.5%, the report said.

The slowing US economy has not hurt the company's wireless business or its sales to large corporations or small- and medium-size businesses, Stephenson said.

The consumer broadband and wire-line business makes up less than 20% of revenue for AT&T, the nation's largest wireless carrier with 65.7 million subscribers, the report added.

AT&T did not change its guidance of double-digit earnings-per-share growth for 2007 and 2008. AT&T is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 24.

On the whole, Stephenson said AT&T's business will continue to grow, driven by wireless strength, increasing broadband penetration and its premium television service, U-verse, which had a troubled early rollout, the report further said.

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