AT&T records $6.7 billion loss despite record smartphone sales

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AT&T posted financial results for the fourth quarter of 2011 today. Leading the way for AT&T was record-breaking sales of 9.4 million smartphones which is nearly twice as many sold in the previous quarter and doubles the company’s previous quarterly record. The company added 717,000 new customers on long-term contracts during the quarter, the largest increase in five quarters, ending the year with 103.2 million subscribers.

The wireless carrier noted best-ever sales for both Android and Apple smartphones. Nearly twice as many Android smartphones were sold in Q4 versus the same time a year ago. AT&T activated 7.6 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, breaking yet another quarterly record. The majority of iPhones activated were of the 4S variety, as noted in the press release.

As the quarter came to a close, AT&T highlighted that 56.8 percent of the nearly 70 million postpaid subscribers were using smartphones. This figure is up from 42.7 percent last year and 32.8 percent two years ago. Interestingly enough, roughly 87 percent of smartphone users are subscribed to a family or business plan.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses for AT&T. Despite the significant number of new customers, rival Verizon added nearly 500,000 more subscribers in the same time frame. But more importantly, however, is the massive $6.7 billion loss that was reported. The failed acquisition of T-Mobile resulted in AT&T having to pay $3 billion in cash, $1 billion in spectrum and multiple roaming deals. Additional changes in how the company accounts for employee pension benefits led to further losses.

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