Top U.S. telecom executives gave a mixed outlook for the U.S. economy on Thursday, citing a lack of job creation, even as AT&T Inc
Right now we're on pace in the third quarter to exceed what we did in the second quarter in terms of subscriber adds, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told a Goldman Sachs conference, citing total subscribers and bill paying users.
Stephenson did not give specific third-quarter customer numbers for the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, which added 1.4 million customers in the second quarter on a net basis.
But Stephenson said he is not seeing growth from corporate clients, which have been disconnecting phone lines as a weaker economy forces them to trim operations or worse, go bankrupt.
Our view right now is we're probably going to run at a flattish level for some time, Stephenson said.
I don't see it deteriorating further, he said. In the second half of 2010 we see the opportunity for some growth.
But Verizon Communications Inc
At this point in the cycle very little job creation is occurring, he told the conference, citing comments from a meeting with business leaders a day earlier.
The fact is the economy is still contracting, he said.
Verizon's Seidenberg also said it was too soon to estimate when the market starts to recover.
Broader companies are not yet coming to the conclusion that there's a date everything gets better, he told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
Verizon -- which owns the top U.S. mobile service, Verizon Wireless, with Vodafone Group Plc
The heads of AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp
AT&T's Stephenson described the Department of Justice review of its proposed purchase of Centennial Communications Corp
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse declined to comment on recent investor speculation that Sprint could be the target of an acquisition but the executive said that the regulatory review of any deal could be much tougher.
We'll have to see who's the guinea pig, the first to test out the new administration, he said.
On the New York Stock Exchange, AT&T fell 17 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $26.37, Verizon dropped 55 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $29.86, and Sprint edged down 5 cents to $3.93 early Thursday afternoon.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang)