Note: AT&T’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call will be webcast at 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. The webcast and related materials will be available on AT&T’s Investor Relations website at https://investors.att.com.
<byline>DALLAS, January 27, 2021 <byline>
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) reported fourth-quarter results that showed continuing subscriber growth in wireless, fiber and HBO Max while continuing to reflect strong cash flows and financial strength.
“We ended the year with strong momentum in our market focus areas of broadband connectivity and software-based entertainment,” said John Stankey, AT&T CEO. “By investing in our high-quality wireless customer base, we had our best full-year of postpaid phone net adds
in a decade and our second lowest postpaid phone churn ever. Our fiber broadband net adds
passed the 1 million mark for the year. And the release of Wonder Woman 1984 helped drive our domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers to more than 41 million, a full two years faster than our initial forecast.”
AT&T’s consolidated revenues for the fourth quarter totaled $45.7 billion versus $46.8 billion in the year-ago quarter. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted revenues across most businesses, particularly WarnerMedia and domestic wireless service revenues, which were pressured from lower international roaming. For the quarter, revenue declines included domestic video,
Warner Bros. television and theatrical products, legacy wireline services, and Latin America, which includes foreign exchange pressure. These declines were partly offset by higher domestic wireless revenues, primarily from equipment sales.
Operating expenses were $56.4 billion versus $41.5 billion in the year-ago quarter. Expenses increased due to higher non-cash asset impairments and abandonments (including $15.5 billion for the Video business), higher domestic wireless equipment costs and higher HBO Max investments. These increases were partially offset by lower Video and Warner Bros. costs associated with lower revenues and foreign exchange impacts on Latin America expenses.
Operating income/(loss) was ($10.7) billion versus $5.3 billion in the year-ago quarter due to the non-cash asset impairments in the quarter and the impact of lower revenues. Operating income margin was (23.5%) versus 11.4% in the year-ago quarter. When adjusted for non-cash asset impairments, merger-amortization costs and other items, operating income was $7.8 billion versus $9.2 billion in the year-ago quarter, and operating income margin was 17.1% versus 19.6% in the year-ago quarter.
Fourth-quarter net loss attributable to common stock was ($13.9) billion, or ($1.95) per common share, versus net income attributable to common stock of $2.4 billion, or $0.33 per diluted common share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusting for $2.70, which includes asset impairments, an actuarial loss on benefit plans, merger-amortization costs and other items, earnings per diluted common share was $0.75 compared to an adjusted $0.89 in the year-ago quarter. The company did not adjust for COVID-19 impacts of ($0.08): $0.01 incremental cost reductions and ($0.09) of estimated revenues.
Cash from operating activities was $10.1 billion, and capital expenditures were $2.4 billion. Gross capital investment – which consists of capital expenditures, cash payments for vendor payments and excludes FirstNet reimbursements – totaled $4.3 billion. Capital investment – which consists of capital expenditures plus cash payments for vendor financing – totaled
$3.4 billion, which includes $1.0 billion of cash payments for vendor financing and $920 million of FirstNet reimbursements. Free cash flow – cash from operating activities minus capital expenditures – was $7.7 billion for the quarter. Net debt declined by $1.6 billion sequentially in the quarter, and net debt to adjusted EBITDA at the end of the fourth quarter was 2.70x. 
For full-year 2020 when compared with 2019 results, AT&T's consolidated revenues totaled
$171.8 billion versus $181.2 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted revenues across all businesses, particularly WarnerMedia and domestic wireless service revenues, which were pressured from lower international roaming. Declines at WarnerMedia included lower content and advertising revenues, in part due to COVID-19. Revenues also declined in domestic video, legacy wireline services and Latin America, which was impacted by foreign exchange pressures. Growth from domestic wireless equipment and strategic and managed services partly offset these declines.
Operating expenses were $165.4 billion in 2020 compared with $153.2 billion in 2019, primarily due to non-cash asset impairments and abandonments that were $17.4 billion higher than in 2019, costs relating to launching and operating HBO Max, higher domestic wireless equipment costs, incremental COVID-19 costs, higher severance charges, and higher subscriber acquisition and fulfillment costs. These increases were partially offset by lower Video and WarnerMedia costs from lower revenues, foreign exchange impacts on Latin America expenses, a one-time spectrum gain and cost efficiencies.
Compared with results from 2019, operating income was $6.4 billion, down 77.1% primarily due to higher asset impairments and abandonments and COVID-19 impacts; and operating income margin was 3.7% versus 15.4%. With adjustments for both years, operating income was
$34.1 billion versus $38.6 billion in 2019, and operating income margin was 19.8% versus 21.3%.
2020 net loss attributable to common stock was ($5.4) billion, or ($0.75) per common share, versus net income attributable to common stock of $13.9 billion, or $1.89 per diluted common share, in 2019. With adjustments for both years, earnings per diluted common share was $3.18 compared to $3.57 in 2019.
Cash from operating activities was $43.1 billion, and capital expenditures were $15.7 billion. Gross capital investment – which includes capital expenditures, cash payments for vendor financing and excludes FirstNet reimbursements – was $19.7 billion. Capital investment – which consists of capital expenditures plus cash payments for vendor financing – totaled $18.6 billion, including $3.0 billion of cash payments for vendor financing and $1.1 billion of FirstNet reimbursements. Full-year free cash flow  was $27.5 billion compared to $29.0 billion in 2019. The company’s free cash flow total dividend payout ratio for the full year was 55%.3 Net debt declined by $3.5 billion in the year.
In 2021, the company expects:
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across TV, mobile and broadband. Plus, it serves high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions to nearly 3 million business customers. WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands, including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies.
Xandr, now part of WarnerMedia, provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its platform. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 10 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean and wireless services to consumers and businesses in Mexico.
AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information is available at about.att.com. © 2021 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.
*Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results might differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and
Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update and revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.
This news release may contain certain non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations between the non- GAAP financial measures and the GAAP financial measures are available on the company’s website at https://investors.att.com.
For more information, contact:
Fletcher Cook AT&T Inc.
Phone: (214) 912-8541
Daphne Avila AT&T Inc.
Phone: (972) 266-3866