AT&T Earnings on Deck After Verizon Miss

On Tuesday, Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATNI) announced that it had agreed to sell its Alltel-brand domestic retail wireless business to AT&T (NYSE:T) for $780 million. The business comes with 585,000 customers in six states, and earned $34 million in profit off of $350 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2012.

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Also on Tuesday, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) announced fourth-quarter numbers that missed expectations, but suggest long-term strength. A record number of new wireless subscribers pushed margins down because of smartphone subsidies. Earnings fell to $0.45 per share, missing estimates by 5 cents. But more subscribers trump the short-term earnings drop, which was compounded by damage from Hurricane Sandy, which cost 7 cents per share.

AT&T Inc. Stock Chart - T Interactive Chart - Yahoo! Finance

Man Measuring MoneyAt the end of the day, investors had bid shares up about 1 percent, slightly mitigating the stock’s nearly 4 percent loss so far this year. AT&T is facing an even worse start to the year, off about 4.5 percent two days before its earnings.

Analysts are looking for earnings of about $0.46 per share from AT&T on Thursday, a four-cent gain on the year-ago period. The company has beat expectations for the past three quarters, but growth has been slow. Analysts have grown increasingly bearish on the stock because of this, expecting that its growth prospects in the U.S. have become limited, and have downwardly revised their estimates heading into earnings.

Quarter Sep. 30, 2011 Dec. 31, 2011 Mar. 31, 2012 Jun. 30, 2012 Sep. 30, 2012
Revenue ($) in millions 31,480 32,500 31,820 31,580 31,460
Diluted EPS ($) 0.61 0.42 0.60 0.66 0.63

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