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AT&T closes 2021 with strong 4Q net adds, earnings and revenue

The wireless company reported continuing customer growth in wireless, fiber and HBO Max, and beat analyst earnings expectations.
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Written by Marc Wojno, Senior Editor on

AT&T reported strong fourth quarter and year-end earnings as it added 884,000 postpaid phone net additions for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2021 (3.2 million for the full year) and reported total global HBO Max and HBO subscribers of 73.8 million, up 13.1 million year-over-year.

The wireless giant reported non-GAAP fourth quarter earnings of 78 cents a share (69 cents a share GAAP) on revenue of $41 billion, beating Wall Street's estimate of 76 cents a share on revenue of $40.4 billion. For the full year, AT&T's non-GAAP earnings were $3.40 a share ($2.76 a share GAAP), on revenue of $168.9 billion.

According to its press release, for 2021, AT&T said it led the industry in postpaid phone net adds, gaining more subscribers than in the prior 10 years combined; added more than a million fiber subscribers — the fourth year in a row in which it added at least 1 million subscribers; and exceeded the high end of its guidance for global HBO Max and HBO subscribers.

Highlights

  • AT&T added 1,285,000 postpaid net additions as well as 24,000 prepaid phone ads and 884,000 postpaid phone net ads.
  • AT&T's mobility group saw revenue growth of 5.1% in the fourth quarter to $21 billion and operating income of $5.4 billion.
  • AT&T's equipment revenue was $6.5 billion, up 6.2%, due to increased high-end smartphone sales.
  • AT&T's service revenue was up 4.6% in the fourth quarter to $14.7 billion thanks to subscriber gains and the lapping of pandemic impacts on international roaming revenues.
  • AT&T Fiber added 271,000 net customers (1 million for the full year) and broadband revenue was up 5.4% in the fourth quarter from a year ago.
  • WarnerMedia revenue in the fourth quarter was $9.9 billion, up 15.4% from the same period the previous year.

"We ended 2021 the way we started it – by growing our customer relationships, running our operations more effectively and efficiently, and sharpening our focus," said CEO John Stankey. "Our momentum is strong and we're confident there is more opportunity to continue to grow our customer base and drive costs from the business," he added.  

The company said that it intends to host a virtual analyst meeting in the first half of March when it expects to report additional financial and operating performance of its Communications unit following the close of its pending WarnerMedia transaction, which is now expected to close in the second quarter.

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