Not only did they net out another 4.1 million wireless customers, but they grew their video business, which I am fairly sure none of their competitors managed to achieve in the past quarters. Net additions to the “Entertainment Group” which includes DIRECTV Satellite and DIRECTV NOW were 161,000. The driving forces clearly were 368,000 new subscribers to DIRECTV NOW and 139,000 people who added DIRECTV Satellite in Latin America.
Latin America has been the jewel in AT&T’s satellite TV crown for many years now, as improving economic conditions make it possible for more people to enjoy home entertainment. For the most part, AT&T’s Latin operations use very similar hardware to what’s already been developed for the US, and that makes implementation easy.
DIRECTV US Satellite was not reported separately, but it’s easy to look at the math and believe that there was a small increase in subscribers, or possibly a small decrease. More importantly, AT&T continues to be committed to satellite television as more and more critics pile up claiming that traditional pay-television is in a permanent downward spiral.
It’s a good time to own AT&T stock, with earnings per share of $4.76, up from $2.10 in the prior year. Of course the stock market in general had a good 2017, but it’s much harder to make money as a telecommunications company these days than it was in prior years when people were grabbing onto new phones and new TV services that they never had before. AT&T deserves a lot of credit for keeping profits up without sacrificing service.
If you look at things in detail, AT&T management are very excited about continued increases in profit due to the recently passed tax law, as well as profits from their FirstNet private cellular network which was completed in 2017. FirstNet will let first responders communicate on private frequencies that can’t be as easily interrupted when there is a crisis or disaster.
Overall, congratulations to AT&T for great work in 2017! If you’re interested in more detail, the full press release and other links can be found here.