Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Ma Bell's Affair With Steve Jobs Pays Off

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

As if it didn't do enough already, the iPhone now appears to be a cosmetic, too. AT&T (NYSE: T  ) got a helpful touch-up from Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) hot-selling smartphone during the first quarter.

AT&T said that it added 1.2 million net wireless subscribers during its first quarter, while activating 1.6 million iPhones. Talk about interesting math. Even if wireless services revenue rose 9.6% year over year to $11.7 billion, it sounds like Ma Bell lost subscribers who favor handsets from Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) .

As it turns out, that's not the case. A spokesperson I talked with earlier pointed out that 40% of customers who activated an iPhone during the quarter -- or 640,000 -- were new converts from other carriers. Others were upgrading from an older iPhone. So while it's likely that most of Ma Bell's new customers are iPhone users, you'll still find plenty of other handsets on its network.

Should that ever change, I'm not entirely sure AT&T would mind. Once users switch, they're likely to remain loyal; iPhone users suffer significantly lower churn rates than peers, the company said in a statement.

Some of Ma Bell's wireline business is also improving, if not as quickly or as impressively as the wireless business. For example, AT&T's U-verse Internet-based TV service added 284,000 subscribers in Q1, and with greater broadband penetration, overall wireline revenue per household rose 2%.

Analysts were surprised by the gains. "You had broadband net [additions] very strong, U-verse net adds very strong and wireless was very strong," Commresearch analyst Gregory Lundberg told Reuters. "For this economy, it was an outstanding performance."

Nevertheless, double-digit declines in AT&T's voice and directory units once again dragged down the rest of the business. Overall revenue declined 0.6% from last year's first quarter. Per-share earnings, meanwhile, fell 7% to $0.53, thanks in part to higher pension obligations.

In other words, despite hanging with a younger, hipper, more profitable crowd, Ma Bell is still showing her age. At least she's aging with style.

Brrrrrrring! It's related Foolishness calling:

Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple, and a stock position in Nokia, at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy needs to put you on hold. Be right back.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 881053, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/26/2016 5:27:30 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 8 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,169.27 -53.76 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,143.16 -8.17 -0.38%
NASD 5,283.40 -26.43 -0.50%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/25/2016 4:01 PM
T $36.70 Down -0.16 -0.43%
AT and T CAPS Rating: ****
AAPL $118.25 Up +0.60 +0.51%
Apple CAPS Rating: ****
BBRY $7.27 Down -0.08 -1.09%
BlackBerry CAPS Rating: *
NOK $4.97 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Nokia CAPS Rating: **
PALM.DL2 $5.69 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Palm CAPS Rating: *