Shares of AT&T down after Q3 earnings

Telco meets Wall Street profit, revenue estimates; total subscribers now exceed 100 million

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Despite meeting analysts' expectations, shares of AT&T (NYSE: T) were down early Thursday afternoon after the telecommunications giant reported third-quarter earnings.

The company's stock was trading at 28.70 shortly before 1 p.m., down 39 cents, or 1.3%, from Wednesday's closing price of 29.09.

AT&T reported before the market opened third-quarter net income of $3.62 billion, or 61 cents a share, substantially lower than the $12.3 billion, or $2.07 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

But as the company noted, last year's Q3 profit numbers included "one-time gains from a tax settlement and the sale of Sterling Commerce." Excluding one-time gains, earnings were 54 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had expected net income of 61 cents a share in this year's Q3.

Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $31.48 billion, down 0.3% from last year's $31.58 billion, though almost exactly in line with consensus estimates of $31.5 billion.

AT&T reported a net gain in total wireless subscribers of 2.1 million, giving it a total of 100.7 million.

"Third-quarter net adds reflect adoption of smartphones, increases in prepaid and reseller subscribers and sales of tablets and connected devices such as automobile monitoring systems, security systems and a host of other emerging products," the company said.

Overall, AT&T's wireless division logged Q3 revenue of $14.26 billion, a gain of 4.3% over the $13.68 in the year-ago quarter. Wireless now accounts for 45% of total revenue.

In a statement accompanying the earnings release, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said, "Mobile broadband growth continues to be robust, execution was strong across the business, and we delivered another solid quarter."

Stephenson also said AT&T continues "to work toward a successful completion of our planned T-Mobile USA merger."

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is suing the company to prevent the $39 billion acquisition from Deutsche Telekom, might have other ideas.

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