Can AT&T Find Support At Current Prices?

With shares of AT&T (NYSE:T) trading around $33, is T an OUTPERFORM, WAIT AND SEE, or STAY AWAY? Let’s analyze the stock with the relevant sections of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework:

T = Trends for a Stock’s Movement

AT&T is a provider of telecommunications services in the United States and worldwide. Services offered include wireless communications, local exchange services, and long-distance services. AT&T operates in four segments: Wireless, Wireline, Advertising Solutions, and Other. The communications products offered through AT&T’s segments reach audiences using just about every widely adopted medium: Internet, voice, television, and mobile. As consumers continue to adopt this technology, providers like AT&T stand to see rising profits.

AT&T is reportedly close to selling its wireless towers to Crown Castle International Corp. (NYSE:CCI), according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg. The sources estimated that the towers could be worth $5 billion but also cautioned that an agreement has not been finalized and that the talks could still fall apart. AT&T could put the cash toward its $14 billion network update and acquisitions in Europe. The cash will also strengthen AT&T’s balance sheet before a planned stock offering.

T = Technicals on the Stock Chart Are Weak

AT&T stock has seen its fair share of struggles in the last couple of years. The stock is currently trading near lows for the year and may be setting-up to continue. Analyzing the price trend and its strength can be done using key simple moving averages. What are the key moving averages? The 50-day (pink), 100-day (blue), and 200-day (yellow) simple moving averages. As seen in the daily price chart below, AT&T is trading above its key averages, which signal neutral to bearish price action in the near-term.

T

(Source: Thinkorswim)

Taking a look at the implied volatility (red) and implied volatility skew levels of AT&T options may help determine if investors are bullish, neutral, or bearish.

Implied Volatility (IV)

30-Day IV Percentile

90-Day IV Percentile

AT&T Options

23.74%

96%

93%

What does this mean? This means that investors or traders are buying a very significant amount of call and put options contracts as compared to the last 30 and 90 trading days.

Put IV Skew

Call IV Skew

October Options

Steep

Average

November Options

Steep

Average

As of today, there is an average demand from call buyers or sellers and high demand by put buyers or low demand by put sellers, all neutral to bearish over the next two months. To summarize, investors are buying a very significant amount of call and put option contracts and are leaning neutral to bearish over the next two months.

On the next page, let’s take a look at the earnings and revenue growth rates and the conclusion.

E = Earnings Are Mixed Quarter-Over-Quarter

Rising stock prices are often strongly correlated with rising earnings and revenue growth rates. Also, the last four quarterly earnings announcement reactions help gauge investor sentiment on AT&T’s stock. What do the last four quarterly earnings and revenue growth (Y-O-Y) figures for AT&T look like and more importantly, how did the markets like these numbers?

2013 Q2

2013 Q1

2012 Q4

2012 Q3

Earnings Growth (Y-O-Y)

7.58%

11.67%

-39.59%

3.28%

Revenue Growth (Y-O-Y)

1.58%

-1.46%

0.23%

-0.06%

Earnings Reaction

-1.14%

-5.02%

0.80%

-0.82%

AT&T has seen increasing earnings and mixed revenue figures over the last four quarters. From these numbers, the markets have been disappointed with AT&T’s recent earnings announcements.

P = Weak Relative Performance Versus Peers and Sector

How has AT&T stock done relative to its peers, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), and sector?

AT&T

Verizon

Sprint

T-Mobile

Sector

Year-to-Date Return

0.67%

7.56%

8.38%

27.67%

10.72%

AT&T has been a poor relative performer, year-to-date.

Conclusion

AT&T is a communications and entertainment company that operates around the world. The company may be close to selling its wireless towers worth an estimated $5 billion. The stock has struggled in recent years and is now trading near lows for the year. Over the last four quarters, earnings have been increasing while revenues have been mixed, however, investors have been disappointed during recent earnings announcements. Relative to its peers and sector, AT&T has been a weak year-to-date performer. WAIT AND SEE what AT&T does in coming quarters.

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