Why Atlantic Tele-Network Shares Jumped

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What: Shares of rural telecom company Atlantic Tele-Network (NASDAQ: ATNI  ) soared 11% today after giant AT&T (NYSE: T  ) agreed to acquire its domestic retail wireless business, Alltell, for $780 million in cash.

So what: Atlantic Tele-Network's shares have been stagnant over the past several years, but the sale of Alltell, which covers about 4.6 million people in rural areas in the United States, nicely unlocks some shareholder value. In fact, management plans to use the proceeds for acquisition opportunities, possible debt reduction, and dividend payments, triggering plenty of optimism over its financial flexibility going forward.

Now what: The deal is subject to approval from the FCC and the Department of Justice and is expected to close in the second half of 2013. "We are pleased that AT&T recognizes the value of our U.S. wireless retail operations and is acquiring these assets," said Atlantic Tele-Network CEO Michael Prior. "We have a disciplined, long-term approach to managing our portfolio." Given today's run-up in the shares, however, I'd wait for some of the excitement to fade before buying into that bullishness.

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