Home » AT&T (T) Q3 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

AT&T (T) Q3 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

The transformation of our customer base also continued in the quarter. Two years ago when we first introduced Project VIP less than half of our broadband customers had high speed IP broadband. Now a significant part of that transition is complete with nearly three quarters of our base on high speed U-verse broadband. And our strategic business services are on track to be nearly 30% total wireline business revenues by the end of this year.

The transition in wireless is just as dramatic. There has been a steady shift of our subscribers to usage based plans; more than 80% of our smartphone base is now on usage-based plans. At the same time, mobile share value has helped move customers off the traditional subsidy model. We also have launched new business opportunities that will leverage our investment in a high speed networks.

The connected car is ready to take off. In the third quarter alone we added more than 500,000 connected cars as the 2015 model start to roll off the assembly lines. Digital Life, the first all-digital all-IP home security and automation platform has launched in 82 markets and has about a 140,000 subscribers. And AT&T has completed a Network On Demand trial in Austin that will enable companies to easily order, add or change services on their own in mere real time. A commercial roll out of Network On Demand enabled Ethernet services is expected in Austin by the end of this year.

Our financial strength allows us to invest while still returning substantial value to shareholders; in fact since 2012 we have returned more than $50 billion to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks. Cash flows are strong and we have been aggressive in monetizing non-strategic assets. Including the sale of our Connecticut wireline property we have generated about 16 billion in cash proceeds from asset sales.

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This has helped us average nearly $20 billion a year in free cash flow and asset sales over the last two years and we expect to do the same this year in 2014. At the same time we’ve kept our financial house in order by funding a pension plan, making significant working capital improvements and taking advantage of historically low interest rates.

This is the heavy lifting our employees are doing everyday that you don’t always notice in the quarterly numbers. We are just managing for the short term or managing and investing for the long term. Now with that view, let’s take a look at third quarter results starting with our financial summary on slide four.

Consolidated revenue grew to $33 billion up $800 million or 2.5% year-over-year. This was driven by continued wireless growth as we repositioned our business model, solid consumer wireline growth, once again led by U-verse and continued growth in strategic business services.

Reported EPS for the quarter was $0.58. In the quarter we had $0.03 of cost associated with merger and integration related expenses. We also redeemed some debt early in the quarter to take advantage of low interest rates; both reductions in cost had a $0.02 impact on the quarter. When you exclude these items earnings per share were $0.63 compared to an adjusted $0.66 a year earlier.

Cash from operations continued at a strong rate and we also continue to find ways to monetize assets. Together, that has generated $32 billion in cash year-to-date. With year-to-date capital spending of $17 billion and about $7 billion paid in dividends so far this year. With all of that our cash position remains strong even as we continue to return substantial value to shareholders.

Now let’s turn to our operational highlights on Slide five. The third quarter was another solid step forward in the transformation of our business. This includes strong subscriber metrics in both wireless and wireline and continued growth in strategic business services. In wireless, we saw good in fact great trends in a challenging environment including more than 2 million net adds that included adding twice as many postpaid subscribers as we did in the year ago third quarter. Record low third quarter post paid churn, solid wireless revenue growth and improving adjusted service margins even with record third quarter smartphone gross adds and upgrades.

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We also saw the continued transition of our customer base to AT&T Next and Mobile Share Value plans while also realizing sequential ARPU phone growth. In wireline, U-verse hit some important subscriber milestones. We now have more than 12 million high speed broadband subscribers. The transition phase of moving our broadband base to IP is nearing completion with about 75% of our total broadband base on our higher speed service. And we also reached more than 6 million U-verse video subs that helped drive strong U-verse revenue growth and continued wire line consumer gains.

U-verse is now a $15 billion annualized revenue stream growing at nearly 24%. In wireline business, strategic services growth continued at a strong pace. It’s now a $10 billion annualized revenue stream growing at more than 14%. With those highlights, let’s now drill down and take a look at our operating results starting with wireless.

We had a great net add quarter. That’s a trend we’ve been seeing throughout the year. Overall we added more than 2 million total subscribers led by postpaid and connected devices. We added nearly 800,000 new postpaid subscribers that’s twice as many as the year ago quarter, about 450,000 of those were tablets and computing devices with the remaining net adds, phone and some digital life.

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