AT&T (T)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 20, 2011 10:00 am ET

Executives

Brooks McCorcle - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

John Joseph Stephens - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Ralph de la Vega - Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets and President of Mobility & Consumer Markets

Analysts

John C. Hodulik - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Michael McCormack - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Philip Cusick - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Brett Feldman - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Michael Rollins - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Jonathan Chaplin - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

David W. Barden - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Simon Flannery - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Craig Moffett - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the AT&T Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Release. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's call is being recorded. With that being said, I'll turn the conference over to Brooks McCorcle, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Finance. Please go ahead.

Brooks McCorcle

Thank you, John. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our third quarter conference call. It's really great to have you with us this morning. As John mentioned, this is Brooks McCorcle, head of Investor Relations for AT&T, and joining me on the call today are John Stephens, AT&T's Chief Financial Officer; and Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's President and CEO for Mobility and Consumer Markets. John will cover our consolidated and Wireline results, and Ralph will give us an update on our Wireless business. Then, we will follow with Qs&As. Let me remind you that our release, investor briefing, supplementary information and the presentation slides that accompany this call are all available on the Investor Relations page of the AT&T website. And as a reminder, that's www.att.com/investor.relations.

I also need to reference our safe harbor statement, which is on Slide 3, and that says that these presentations -- this presentation and the comments that we'll make this morning may contain forward-looking statements. And as you know, they're subject to risks and details can be found in our SEC filings and on AT&T's website. Before I turn the call over to John, let me quickly call your attention to Slide 4, which provides the financial summary. Earnings per share for the quarter was $0.61, a 13% increase over last year's earnings per share, excluding onetime gains and up 3.5% year-to-date. This includes pressure from storm and T-Mobile transaction-related expenses in the third quarter. Our consolidated revenue was stable and consolidated operating margin was up 260 basis points year-over-year and stable sequentially, thanks to our best wireless service margins in 6 quarters and continued strength in Wireline business. Cash flow was superb. Cash from operating activities for the quarter totaled $10.4 billion and free cash flow was $5.1 billion, which brings us to $12.4 billion through the year. That's even with the increased investment in capital expenditures that we told you about last quarter. With that quick overview, I will now turn the call over to AT&T's Chief Financial Officer, John Stephens. John?

John Joseph Stephens

Thanks, Brooks, and good morning to everyone on the call. Before I cover results, let me provide a quick comment on our planned T-Mobile merger. The SEC review is continuing and on the DOJ front, we're hopeful that we can reach a solution. We have a trial date in less than 4 months. The benefits of the combination are both significant and unchanged, and our expectation continues to be that we will reach a successful conclusion.

Now, let me turn to results and comment on the quarter overall, the highlights are on Slide 5. We are very pleased with what we've accomplished in the third quarter and year-to-date, and we continue to see impressive strength in all our growth engines. Mobile broadband leads the way. Ralph will give you more details in a moment but we had a great quarter. Sales were strong across the board, with gains in every subscriber category. Smartphone sales were robust, even in a quarter where you might expect sales to slow. Branded computing devices were also strong, and we turned in impressive service margin results with our best performance in 6 quarters. There also was good news for our Wireline business, where for the first time in 3 years, we posted sequential growth in total and business revenues. IP data continues to be the driver for business and in Wireline Consumer, where we continue to see positive results. The thing I'm most encouraged by is that in addition to solid earnings, we delivered excellent free cash flow. In fact, we had our strongest free cash flow in 2 years. That comes even with making significant CapEx investments. So you're seeing solid execution in every area of the business, which puts us in a great position heading into the fourth quarter.

With that as background, let's take a look at detailed results, starting with consolidated revenues on Slide 6. Third quarter consolidated revenues were stable sequentially and year-over-year, but when you look at our results year-to-date, we've seen revenues increase. Our growth drivers continued to be strong. Excellent mobile broadband growth, solid U-verse gains and improved business trends. This was partially offset in the third quarter by declines in voice and directory. We also had an iPhone launch last year, which provided a lift to 2010 third quarter equipment revenues. Of course, we didn't see this in third quarter revenues this year. So when you factor out equipment revenue, consolidated service revenues actually grew 0.4% versus a year ago. Our overall revenue mix has continued its transformation. Year-to-date, 75% of our revenues come from wireless and Wireline data and managed services. That's up from 72% a year ago and 66% just 2 years ago. Revenues from these areas were up 7% year-to-date, so they're growing at a very good clip. We expect this mix shift to continue, and it's one of the reasons we have such a positive view of our business. With that, let me turn it over to Ralph de la Vega, who will provide an update on Wireless results. Ralph?

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