AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) on Thursday unveiled lower-than-expected third-quarter revenue of $39.1 billion. But the revenue shortfall may be due to accounting changes that occurred in conjunction with its acquisition of DirecTV.
AT&T Inc. posted earnings of $3 billion profit on $39.1 billion in revenue, falling short of analyst estimates of $4.1 billion in profit on $40.7 billion in revenue. This compares to earnings of $3 billion in profit and $33 billion in revenue during the same period last year. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 74 cents, up 14 percent from 65 cents in the same period last year.
“We now have integrated solutions that are unlike any competitor in the market,” Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said in a press statement. “With our national wireless and video capabilities, as well as our extensive broadband network, we now have assets that make us a unique competitor and the first scaled, fully-integrated U.S. service provider.”
AT&T warned of the revenue miss on Wednesday, due to analysts not properly factoring in the company’s acquisition of DirecTV in July. "It is clear many revenue estimates for DirecTV include the full month of July,” AT&T spokesman Brad Burns told Reuters. “Under [generally accepted accounting principles] we are only allowed to include revenue beginning July 25.”
AT&T further clarified the effect of DirecTV's acquisition during its conference call. “Consolidated revenues grew to $39.1 billion," said CFO John Stephens. "That's up nearly 19 percent year-over-year mostly due to our acquisition of DirecTV. But we grew revenues even if you exclude DirecTV. And again, this number does not include the first 24 days of DirecTV revenue as we are reporting under GAAP accounting. If you add those revenues to our GAAP number, consolidated revenues for the quarter would have been more than $41.2 billion.”
On the wireless side of its business, AT&T saw subscribers rise by 2.5 million users, bringing its total wireless subscriber base to 126.4 million subscribers. Smartphone equipment revenue grew 11 percent to $3.2 billion in part due to its shift away from two-year subsidized contracts to its AT&T Next equipment installment plans, which allows the carrier to report higher device revenue.
AT&T’s U-Verse broadband business saw subscribers slightly fall to 14.3 million users, down from 14.5 million users during the same period last year.
AT&T in September said it intended to change the methodology on how DirecTV counts commercial accounts, which brought down its subscriber base by 918,600, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, the acquisition of the satellite company tacked on an additional 19.6 million subscribers, bringing AT&T video user base to 25.4 million users.