AT&T to Persuade Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle

The Justice Department and AT&T (NYSE:T) are scheduled to slug it out today in U.S. District Court. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle wants to learn AT&T’s intentions for its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

The Justice Department sued AT&T and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31 claiming anti-competitive practices. The deal — which would make AT&T the largest U.S. wireless carrier — also met objections from various states, Sprint (NYSE:S), and Cellular South.

AT&T made a strategic decision to withdraw its application to the FCC after learning the DoJ’s stance. AT&T then decided to first focus on obtaining approval from the Dept. At today’s hearing the DoJ will likely push for clarification on AT&T’s intentions.

According to Andrew Gavil, an antitrust professor at Howard University School of Law in Washington, “the Justice Department may try to persuade the judge to press AT&T to take a position on whether it still plans to move forward.” “They may say ‘We think this deal is dead and we shouldn’t be litigating a case that, in effect, is moot.’”

There may be a twist in this corporate tale: an AT&T victory may enable AT&T to claim the plank of “materially changed circumstances” and allow it to resubmit an application to the FCC on these grounds.

Still, Judge Huvelle may opt to place the suit on hold if she considers the FCC is the agency likely to have more expertise in the matter rather than the court with a general view.

Here’s how top telecom carrier stocks are trading on the news:

AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T): T shares recently traded at $28.91, up $0.05, or 0.17%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $27.20 to $31.94. Volume today was 4,632,773 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 28,853,000 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 14.67, while trailing earnings are $1.97 per share. Get the most recent company news and stock data here >>

Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S): S shares recently traded at $2.46, up $0.02, or 0.82%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $2.10 to $6.45. Volume today was 3,718,227 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 61,605,900 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.84 per share. Get the most recent company news and stock data here >>

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ): VZ shares recently traded at $38.38, up $0.57, or 1.51%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $32.28 to $38.95. Volume today was 2,442,332 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 15,747,600 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.43, while trailing earnings are $2.49 per share. Get the most recent company news and stock data here >>

MetroPCS Communications, Inc. (NYSE:PCS): PCS shares recently traded at $8.40, up $0.13, or 1.57%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $7.51 to $18.79. Volume today was 346,835 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 5,463,550 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 13.73, while trailing earnings are $0.61 per share. Get the most recent company news and stock data here >>

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