ATT today reported its quarterly results with strong growth in both Wireless and U-verse business. The company saw record smartphone sales with 10.2 million smartphones sold including 8.6 million iPhones sold in the quarter. Here are some of the details from the quarterly results relating to the wireless business:
ATT delivered strong revenue growth, solid postpaid gains and record smartphone sales in the fourth quarter. Highlights included:
Wireless Revenues Continue Solid Growth. Total wireless revenues, which include equipment sales, were up 5.7 percent year over year to $17.6 billion. Wireless service revenues increased 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter, to $14.9 billion. Wireless data revenues -- driven by mobile Internet access, access to applications, messaging and related services -- increased by 14.7 percent from the year-earlier quarter to $6.8 billion. Data revenue growth was slowed somewhat by the growth of Mobile Share plans. Fourth-quarter wireless operating expenses totaled $15.1 billion, up 6.9 percent versus the year-earlier quarter, driven by record smartphone volumes, and wireless operating income was $2.6 billion, down 1.2 percent year over year.
Strongest Postpaid Net Adds in Three Years. AT&T posted a net increase in total wireless subscribers of 1.1 million in the fourth quarter to reach 107.0 million in service. Subscriber additions for the quarter included postpaid net adds of 780,000, the best gain in 12 quarters. Connected device net adds were 246,000, and reseller net adds were 234,000. Prepaid had a net loss of 166,000 subscribers primarily due to declines in GoPhone and session-based tablets. Fourth-quarter postpaid net adds reflect accelerated adoption of smartphones, sales of tablets and growth in Mobile Premise services.
Branded computing subscribers, which are included in the previous categories, reached a total of 6.4 million, up 26 percent from a year ago. Branded computing devices includes tablets, tethering plans and other data-only devices. Branded computing sales also have been slowed by the introduction of Mobile Share plans, which include tethering. AT&T added almost 400,000 postpaid tablets in the quarter, with new subscribers and prepaid tablet subscribers migrating to postpaid plans.
Postpaid ARPU Increases. Postpaid subscriber ARPU increased 1.9 percent versus the year-earlier quarter to $64.98. When adjusted for the Superstorm Sandy impact, postpaid ARPU grew 2.1 percent. This marked the 16th consecutive quarter AT&T has posted a year-over-year increase in postpaid ARPU.
Smartphones Represent 89 Percent of Postpaid Phone Sales. AT&T sold a record 10.2 million smartphones in the fourth quarter. Smartphones represented 86 percent of postpaid device sales and 89 percent of postpaid phone sales in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, 69.6 percent, or 47.1 million, of AT&T's postpaid phone subscribers had smartphones, up from 58.5 percent, or 39.4 million, a year earlier. AT&T's ARPU for smartphones is twice that of non-smartphone subscribers, and about 90 percent of smartphone subscribers are on FamilyTalk(R), Mobile Share or business plans. Churn levels for these subscribers are significantly lower than for other postpaid subscribers. About 55 percent of AT&T's postpaid smartphone customers now use a 4G-capable device.
In the quarter, the company activated a record 8.6 million iPhones, with 16 percent new to AT&T. The company also had its best-ever sales quarter for Android smartphones.
More than 6.6 Million Postpaid Subscribers on Mobile Share Plans. The number of subscribers on usage-based data plans (tiered data and Mobile Share plans) continues to increase. More than two-thirds, or 31.7 million, of all smartphone subscribers, are on usage-based data plans. This compares to 56 percent, or 22.1 million, a year ago and 31 percent two years ago. More than three-quarters of customers on tiered data plans have chosen the higher-priced plans.
Mobile Share plans continue to be popular. More than 6.6 million customers, or 9 percent of postpaid subscribers, have already signed up for Mobile Share plans. The number of Mobile Share accounts reached 2.2 million in the fourth quarter for an average of about three devices per account. Take rates on the higher-data plans continue to be much stronger than expected with more than a quarter of Mobile Share accounts 10 gigabytes or higher.
Postpaid Churn Down. For the fourth quarter, postpaid churn was 1.19 percent, down when compared to 1.21 percent in the year-ago fourth quarter. Total churn was 1.42 percent versus 1.39 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Record Smartphone Sales Impact Margins. In the fourth quarter, wireless margins reflected record-setting smartphone sales (800,000 more than fourth-quarter 2011), strong customer upgrade levels and the impact of Superstorm Sandy. This was offset in part by further revenue gains from the company's high-value smartphone subscribers and improved operating efficiencies. AT&T's fourth-quarter wireless operating income margin was 14.5 percent versus 15.5 percent in the year-earlier quarter, primarily driven by depreciation and amortization. AT&T's wireless EBITDA service margin was 29.1 percent, or about the same as 29.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. Without the Superstorm Sandy impact, EBITDA service margin would have been nearly 30 percent. (EBITDA service margin is operating income before depreciation and amortization, divided by total service revenues.)
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