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Market Scan
Internet, Wireless Subscribers Surge For AT&T
Matthew Kirdahy, 01.25.07, 2:31 PM ET


Tear Sheet  Chart  News

AT&T stock wouldn’t get as much of a push from its earnings report Thursday as it did in a pervious session on the success of its wireless communications division, Cingular.

AT&T (nyse: T - news - people ) said Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings increase was powered by growth in Internet and wireless subscribers.

Shares edged up 30 cents, less than 1%, to $36.92 in midday trading. The stock set a new 52-week high earlier in the session, showing a gain of about 4% in the past two days.

The San Antonio, TX.-based company’s No. 1 Cingular Wireless unit Wednesday reported its fourth-quarter profit nearly quadrupled, boosted by customer growth during the winter holidays.

The company, which was re-branded under the AT&T name, was a joint venture of Atlanta-based BellSouth (nyse: BLS - news - people ) and AT&T before AT&T completed its $86 billion purchase of BellSouth in December. The wireless company will report earnings as part of the parent company in future quarters.

AT&T also announced BellSouth’s quarterly results, which yielded 68 cents per share, up 28.3% from the year-ago period.

“While we view the quarter as relatively neutral,” said Goldman Sachs analyst Jason Armstrong, “the guidance and the strong performance at BellSouth is generally positive for AT&T.”

The company said it expects synergies from the BellSouth merger to be higher than previously forecast. It said it expects total synergies to be $0.8 billion to $1.2 billion in 2007, up from a previously expected $0.5 billion to $0.8 billion.

It said it now sees the net value of the synergies to be around $22 billion, up from a previous estimate of $18 billion.

AT&T also said profit, excluding merger-related costs and other special items, rose 38.5% from a year earlier, to $2.4 billion, or 61 cents a share. The results include AT&T’s 60% stake in Cingular Wireless, which AT&T now owns outright.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 59 cents per share.

AT&T’s net income rose 17.1% from the same quarter a year earlier to $1.9 billion, or 50 cents per share.

AT&T also said its high-speed Internet subscribers totaled 8.5 million, up 23.4% from a year earlier.

AT&T reported $1.1 billion in total synergies from the SBC merger, compared to its forecast last year for $600 million to $800 million in synergies. The companies announced a $16 billion merger in January 2005.

The company now expects to deliver double-digit percentage growth in earnings per share in the next two years.

© 2007 Forbes.com LLC™

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