Company Profile: AT&T is a Dallas-based holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates provide wireless and wireline telecommunications services and equipment as well as directory advertising and publishing services in the United States and internationally.The Dow component increased its quarterly cash dividend by 2.4% to 43 cents per share, from 42 cents, and concurrently announced a 300 million share repurchase authorization. The authorization represented about 5% of all outstanding shares and had no expiration date. The higher dividend will be paid on Feb. 1, 2011 to shareholders of record on Jan. 7, bringing AT&T's yield to around 5.9%. In Jim Cramer's annual analysis of Dow stocks and 2011 predictions, he said this of AT&T: "This one has had a huge move already and will be losing exclusive selling rights for [Apple's (AAPL)] iPhone to Verizon. That's going to freeze the market and cause the company's growth rate to slip a tad, maybe to below 6%. If that happens the $2.50 estimates might come down, but just a few pennies. I worry more though that it will finally break its linkage with Verizon and get a tad less of a multiple. It will be bailed out by its bountiful yield but I don't see the company trading above $32 given the rate of rate of change upward and a small dividend boost. Still worth owning for the combined return however." On Dec. 20 AT&T beefed up its 4G network plans with a $1.92 billion purchase of air waves from Qualcomm (QCOM). The deal will give Ma Bell the 700-megahertz radio spectrum in the D and E block that Qualcomm acquired as part of its mobile TV effort called Flo TV. But having found few customers, Qualcomm says it will shut down Flo TV in March. AT&T is expected to use the additional radio waves, which were originally set aside for UHF TV signals, as part of its national 4G wireless expansion plan. On Jan. 11, Cramer's prediction about AT&T losing its exclusive selling rights for the iPhone came to fruition. Ending almost a year of speculation, Verizon announced Tuesday it will release Apple's iPhone 4 to consumers on Feb. 10. Analysts expect sales of the Verizon iPhone to top 9 million this year. Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, has about 93 million subscribers on its network. While widely expected to be well-received, the Verizon iPhone presents a few questions for tech watchers: the iPhone's impact on Verizon's margins and how the loss of iPhone exclusivity will fare for AT&T. TheStreet live-blogged the Verizon iPhone announcement, which was held at a New York City jazz hall.
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