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AT&T Posts Earnings Beat, Boosted by Wireless

DALLAS ( TheStreet) -- AT&T (T - Get Report) beat analysts' first-quarter earnings estimates on Tuesday, boosted by strong wireless sales and its smartphone business.

The telecom giant brought in revenue of $31.82 billion, an increase of 1.8% from the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for sales of $31.85 billion.

AT&T reported its fourth-quarter results early on Thursday.

Excluding items, AT&T earned 60 cents a share, up from 57 cents a share in the prior year's quarter and above Wall Street's estimate of 57 cents.

Investors responded positively to the numbers, pushing AT&T's shares up 49 cents, or 1.6%, to $31.10 in premarket trading.

AT&T's total wireless revenue, including equipment sales, climbed more than 5% year over year to $16.1 billion. The company's wireless data revenue grew by more than $1 billion, or 19.9%, to $6.1 billion.

"We continue to capitalize on our terrific momentum in mobile Internet," explained Randall Stephenson, the AT&T CEO, in a statement. "Smartphone and branded computing device sales continue to set a record pace, mobile data revenues were up nearly 20 percent, and we achieved this growth with expanding margins. These results add confidence in our outlook for the year."

In the statement, AT&T said it sold 5.5 million smartphones during the quarter, surpassing the previous first-quarter record. The Dow component noted that both Google (GOOG) Android and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone sales remain strong, and activated 4.3 million iPhones during the quarter with 21% new to AT&T.

AT&T, however, activated 7.6 million iPhones during the seasonally stronger fourth quarter, boosted by holiday sales and the launch of the iPhone 4S.

Speaking on CNBC before market open on Tuesday, Ralph de la Vega, the CEO of AT&T Mobility, said that iPhone sales came in as expected during the first quarter. First-quarter iPhones sales increased year over year, he added.

Rival Verizon (VZ - Get Report) also beat analysts' earnings estimate in its first-quarter results, released last week.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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