|AT&T reported its fourth-quarter results early on Thursday.|
DALLAS ( TheStreet) -- AT&T ( T) beat analysts' revenue estimates, boosted by sales of Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 4S. Earnings trailed forecasts. The telecom giant brought in revenue of $32.5 billion, an increase of 3.6% from the same period last year. Analysts had expected $32 billion.
AT&T had its best-ever quarter of smartphone sales. The Dallas-based firm sold 9.4 million of the devices during the quarter, a 50% hike on its previous quarterly record, and almost double the number sold during the previous quarter, when AT&T took a hit from customers awaiting the iPhone 4S launch. The company had a record quarter of both iPhone and Google ( GOOG) Android phone activations, with AT&T activating a massive 7.6 million iPhones, compared to just 2.7 million during the third quarter. "We had a tremendous year in terms of execution, and we have excellent momentum across our growth platforms," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer. "This was a blowout quarter for smartphone sales." AT&T, however, posted a net loss of $6.7 billion for the quarter, a loss of $1.12 per share, although this was impacted by charges related to the loss of benefit plans, impairments, and a one-time $4 billion charge related to the termination of the company's merger with T-Mobile. Excluding these items and a one-time 3 cent gain from a tax settlement, AT&T earned 42 cents a share, down from 55 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for earnings of 43 cents a share. Nonetheless, AT&T registered some big wireless wins, racking up 717,000 wireless postpaid net adds, its largest increase in five quarters, and a 2.5 million increase in total net wireless subscribers. Investors pushed down the company's shares 51 cents, or 1.7%, to $29.70 in pre-market trading. Rival Verizon ( VZ) also dipped below analysts' earnings estimates with its own fourth-quarter results, released earlier this week, yet registered strong revenue growth. --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: firstname.lastname@example.org