AT&T said Wednesday that it activated 1.9 million iPhone 3Gs in the fourth quarter with 40 percent of those activations representing new customers.
In the back half of 2008, AT&T activated more than 4.3 million iPhones (statement). AT&T also noted that it iPhone customers deliver higher revenue per user and have lower churn rates.
The news comes amid a mixed quarter for AT&T where its wireless business shined, but earnings fell a penny short of expectations. Like Verizon's report on Tuesday, AT&T's financial results had a little bit for everyone. The overall message, however, is that the two telecom giants--Verizon and AT&T--can weather a downturn well.
AT&T reported fourth quarter net income of $2.4 billion, or 41 cents a share, down from $3.1 billion, or 51 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $31.1 billion, up 2.4 percent from a year ago. Adjusting for various charges, AT&T had earnings of 64 cents a share, a penny short of Wall Street estimates. AT&T added that its earnings were hit by its "iPhone 3G initiative," which includes building out its network to support the iPhone.
For the year, AT&T reported net income of $12.9 billion, or $2.16 a share, on revenue of $124 billion.
In a statement, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he expects "2009 to be another year of overall revenue growth and solid progress for our company." Indeed, AT&T was able to provide a little more color on its 2009 outlook than other companies. AT&T said revenue growth in 2009 will be in the "low single-digit range" and it expects wireless profit margins to improve as the iPhone 3G matures. AT&T added that it will cut capital spending by about 10 percent to 15 percent.
By the numbers:
- AT&T had 77 million wireless subscribers, up 7 percent from a year ago. Postpaid churn was 1.2 percent and total churn for the fourth quarter was 1.6 percent.
- Wireless data revenue was $3.1 billion, up 51.2 percent from a year ago. AT&T delivered more than 80 billion wireless text messages.
- Average revenue per user was $59.59 in the fourth quarter.
- AT&T added 264,000 net U-verse TV subscribers to reach 1 million customers.