AT&T earnings on the rise but new subscriber growth still weakBy Shawn Knight
AT&T has reported a first quarter net income of $3.6 billion, or $0.60 per share which is up from $3.4 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue increased nearly 2 percent to $31.8 billion as the company sold 5.5 million smartphones and activated 4.3 million iPhones.
Wireless data revenue increased 19.9 percent to $6.1 billion from the same period a year ago. The proliferation of smartphones and speedier network connections will likely continue to drive this figure higher over time; good news for the telecom as new subscribers are joining at the lowest rate in eight years.
AT&T added 726,000 subscribers in the first quarter, or less than a third of the number that signed up in the same period a year ago. 187,000 of those were contract-based subscribers and almost all of them came from the launch of Apple's new iPad. Tablet customers typically pay much less for service than cellular phone customers do per device.
During the earnings call, AT&T wireless chief Ralph de la Vega said that his company will continue to search for smaller acquisitions to add to their overall spectrum collection. There's no doubt that the wireless provider is a bit reluctant to attempt another large deal after the failed T-Mobile acquisition that ultimately cost AT&T $4 billion.
De la Vega didn't name any potential targets but there are multiple regional carriers that could soon join the AT&T family.