AT&T claims 900K domestic wireless net adds in Q4

AT&T’s postpaid phone net adds won’t be known until Wednesday, when the carrier is scheduled to release its quarterly results.

AT&T added nearly 1 million U.S. wireless customers in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But it will be a few more days before the carrier discloses how well it did with postpaid phone subscribers.

The nation’s second-largest mobile network operator said in an 8-K filing that it saw more than 900,000 branded net adds of domestic wireless subscribers during the period—500,000 postpaid and 400,000 prepaid—with overall branded net adds of more than 330,000. AT&T saw 700,000 2G deactivations as it shut down service on the older network, 50,000 of which were postpaid, and said it has “discontinued service on virtually all of our 2G cell sites.”

The carrier also said it expected to record a non-cash, pre-tax loss of approximately $1 billion related to the annual “remeasurement” of its pension and post-employment benefit plans.

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AT&T’s postpaid phone net adds won’t be known until Wednesday, when the carrier is scheduled to release its quarterly results. But Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research tweeted that the 8-K implies 70,000 postpaid phone net losses during the quarter, which would mark an improvement over the expected loss of 225,000.

Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo Securities echoed Piecyk’s thoughts.

“We view AT&T’s select subscriber disclose as a net positive as preliminary results beat our estimates for wireless and video,” Fritzsche wrote in a research note to investors. “While AT&T did not break out postpay phone results specifically, we are encouraged by total postpay and postpay subscriber beat.”

AT&T’s has consistently lost postpaid phone subscribers in recent quarters, but its strategy of sacrificing market share while focusing on the bottom line appears to be paying dividends. The company posted third-quarter 2016 revenues of $40.0 billion, up 4.6%, alongside net income attributable to AT&T rising 11.2%. Cash from operations reached $11 billion during that quarter.


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