By Malathi Nayak & Abhirup Roy
(Reuters) – AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, said fourth-quarter revenue grew less than expected as it added fewer mainstream wireless customers than a year ago due to stiffer competition from rivals.
The company's stock fell approximately 2 percent.
p> AT&T had 526,000 net new postpaid customers, down 38.4 percent from 854,000 a year earlier. For its prepaid service, the company had 469,000 net new customers, it said on Tuesday.
Total operating revenue rose 22.3 percent to $42.12 billion, slightly missing analysts' average estimate of $42.75 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Earnings of 63 cents, excluding certain items, were in line with analysts' forecasts.
Average revenue per postpaid wireless customer fell 2 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
AT&T has been seeking new revenue streams & is betting on its 2015 acquisition of the DirecTV satellite TV business to assist beef up its bundles of cellular, broadband, TV & fixed-line phone services. It has expanded in Mexico after the recent purchase of the third- & fourth-largest wireless carriers in that country.
Earlier this month, AT&T introduced an unlimited wireless data plan for subscribers of its DirecTV or AT&T U-Verse home television service. In a period of two weeks, half a million subscribers have signed up for unlimited data, executives said on a conference call after the earnings release.
AT&T said it gained 214,000 DirecTV customers, while 240,000 left its U-Verse TV service.
Net income attributable to AT&T was $4.01 billion, or 65 cents per share, compared with a loss of approximately $4 billion, or 77 cents per share.
The company is reporting quarterly earnings for the second time since completing its $48 billion acquisition of DirecTV, which made it the world's biggest pay-TV operator.
In 2016, the company expects capital expenditures around the $22 billion range. It forecast double-digit consolidated revenue growth & adjusted earnings in the mid-single digit range.
AT&T shares slipped approximately 2 percent in extended trading to $34.70.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak in New York & Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza & Richard Chang)
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