Shares of telecom giant AT&T (NYSE:T) fell as much as 5.5% lower on Wednesday morning following the release of fourth-quarter results that didn't exactly impress investors. By 11:30 a.m. EST, Ma Bell's stock had recovered slightly to a 3.7% total decline.
AT&T's adjusted earnings rose 10% year over year to land at $0.86 per diluted share. Revenues grew 15% stronger to $48.0 billion. Your average Wall Street analyst had been looking for earnings near $0.86 per share on sales in the neighborhood of $48.5 billion. The company added 39,000 net new subscribers in the fourth quarter under its branded mobile service plans, down from 698,000 additions in the year-ago period.
Wireless revenues fell 2.1% year over year as AT&T's customers moved away from its profitable postpaid service contracts in favor of lower-cost prepaid plans. Operating revenues per connected device -- including everything from smartphones to Internet of Things devices -- fell 26% to $122 per device per month.
Moreover, AT&T's revenue growth stems largely from last year's acquisition of media studio Time Warner. Without that instant shot of top-line adrenaline, AT&T's core revenues from the mobile network fell 2.1% below the year-ago period's results.
It's no surprise to see investors shying away from AT&T's uninspiring business trends today.