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AT&T Cancels $4 Billion Share Repurchase, Cites Coronavirus

AT&T canceled a $4 billion accelerated share repurchase agreement due to the coronavirus.

AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report said Friday that because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was canceling a planned $4 billion accelerated share repurchase agreement.

Shares of the Dallas telecom giant at last check were 1.1% higher at $31.50.

AT&T said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was withdrawing from the agreement with Morgan Stanley & Co.  (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley (MS) Report to repurchase $4 billion of stock during the second quarter. 

"While our business continues to operate effectively during the Covid-19 global pandemic," the filing said, "we have decided at this time to cancel this [accelerated share repurchase] agreement and any other repurchases to maintain flexibility and focus on continued investment in serving our customers, taking care of our employees and enhancing our network, including nationwide 5G."

These continued investments, the filing said, "will help ensure the company is well positioned when the pandemic passes and economies begin to recover."

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"The Covid-19 pandemic has and will continue affecting economies and businesses around the world," the filing continued. "The impacts of the pandemic could be material, but due to the evolving nature of this situation, we are not able at this time to estimate the impact on our financial or operational results."

AT&T said several factors could affect its results, including the effectiveness of Covid-19-mitigation measures, global economic conditions, consumer spending, work-from-home trends, and supply chain sustainability. 

"These factors could result in increased or decreased demand for our products and services and impact our ability to serve customers," the filing said.

Earlier this month AT&T said it was buying back an additional $4 billion in stock over the next three years, and said it was confident it would achieve its 2020 and long-term guidance.

The company also said at the time that it intended to use 50% to 70% of free cash flow after dividends to retire about 70% of the shares it issued to fund the acquisition of Time Warner - now WarnerMedia - by the end of 2022.