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AT&T (T) Sponsored Data Lets Advertisers Pay for Smartphone Data

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- AT&T (T) will soon let advertisers pay for data that smartphone users consume when viewing their ads.

Shares of AT&T rose 0.3% to $34.92 on Monday.

The new program, which AT&T calls Sponsored Data, doesn't charge smartphone users for data when viewing paid content from one of the carrier's partners. AT&T has three partners for the start of the program: smartphone ad platform Aquto, business app developer Kony Solutions, and health care company UnitedHealth (UNH).

All ads that are part of Sponsored Data will display an icon telling users they won't be charged data for viewing them. Other carriers may soon roll out similar plans that let advertisers pay for user's data when viewing ads. According to The New York Time Verizon (VZ) is testing a similar program for its network.

TheStreet Ratings team rates AT&T as a "buy" with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate AT&T INC (T) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • T's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • AT&T INC has improved earnings per share by 14.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, AT&T INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.21 versus $0.66 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.48 versus $1.21).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 4.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $3,635.00 million to $3,814.00 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.89, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.38 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, AT&T INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.

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