Wednesday posted fourth-quarter earnings that were in line with estimates and set plans to offer a tracking stock in its consumer phone business. But the revenue declines that have so ravaged the stock show no signs of reversing.
For the quarter ended Dec. 31, AT&T earned 5 cents a diluted share from continuing operations, excluding certain charges, down from 24 cents a year earlier. Revenue slipped 6% on a pro forma basis and 9.5% on a reported basis, to $12.6 billion. Including all charges, AT&T's fourth-quarter loss narrowed to 39 cents a share from 52 cents a year earlier.
For its first quarter, AT&T forecast a pro forma profit of 2 cents to 5 cents a share. The company also projected a steepening revenue decline at its AT&T Business unit during 2002, which will reduce the unit's margin on earnings before interest and taxes from 2001's 13.7%. The consumer unit now forecasts a revenue decline in the mid-20% range, while percentage revenue growth at AT&T Broadband should rank in the low to midteens.
AT&T, which during 2001 agreed to sell its cable business to
after essentially putting the business on the block with a midyear plan to split AT&T into four parts, said it would issue a tracking stock for its consumer business during 2002. Just which investors might be eager to buy into the fast-shrinking unit has yet to be determined, alas. The stock has retreated to early 1990s levels as investors tired of watching the company's various businesses erode.
AT&T shares closed Tuesday at $17.81, some 30% off their 52-week high.