NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of At&T (T) are climbing 1.58% to $36.34 on Thursday after analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch upgraded the telecommunications services company to "buy" from "neutral" and raised their price target to $40 from $35.
The firm cited that AT&T will generate improved financial performance stemming from a relatively more stable wireless competitive climate.
Additionally, the company will benefit from the $49 billion DirecTV (DTV) merger through an up-front cash flow accretion and merger synergy cost savings upside vs., the company's current $2.5 billion annual target, analysts said.
However, with AT&T issuing approximately 950 million shares associated with the DirecTV acquisition, concerns exist regarding 'flowback' risk and this has weighed on AT&T's stock year to date, analysts noted.
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates AT&T INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate AT&T INC (T) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."
Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:
- T's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.3%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
- The gross profit margin for AT&T INC is rather high; currently it is at 55.24%. Regardless of T's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 9.82% trails the industry average.
- AT&T INC's earnings per share declined by 12.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AT&T INC reported lower earnings of $1.19 versus $3.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.52 versus $1.19).
- The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income has decreased by 12.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $3,652.00 million to $3,200.00 million.
- Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.12, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.48 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.
- You can view the full analysis from the report here: T Ratings Report