AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) released its fourth quarter earnings report, posting some decent overall results, but it wasn’t enough for Wall Street. The company reported December quarter earnings of 53 cents per share, excluding items. That’s compared to 44 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago. Including items, net income was $1.31 per share. AT&T said revenue rose from $32.61 billion last year to $33.16 billion this year.
Analysts had been expecting the company to report earnings excluding items of 50 cents per share on $33.06 billion in revenue. But in spite of the earnings beat, shares of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) declined nearly 2% in after-hours trading, possibly because the company missed on a key metric. It reported a net increase of 809,000 total wireless subscribers during the quarter—far short of the 1.25 million analysts had been expecting, according to CNBC.
Breaking down AT&T’s results
During the quarter, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) recorded the lowest ever fourth quarter postpaid churn, which was 1.11%. AT&T reported more than a half a million branded net adds during the quarter, including both postpaid and prepaid. AT&T also added 1.2 million mobile smartphones under contract during the quarter, although that includes both upgrades and new subscribers.
The company’s wireless service revenues rose 4.8% compared to the same quarter a year ago, while wireless data revenues increased 16.8% year over year. AT&T reported adding over 2 million new wireless and wireline high speed broadband connections during the quarter. AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) reported a 2.1% increase in total postpaid average revenue per user. Phone-only average revenue per user rose 3.9% during the quarter.
AT&T returns capital to shareholders
During the fourth quarter, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) bought back about $1.9 billion worth of shares. For the full year, the company bought back 366 million shares, which was more than 6% of shares outstanding, for a total of $13 billion. For the full year, AT&T returned almost $23 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends.