Shares of AT&T
How it got here
Ma Bell reported its first earnings release in the wake of its failed attempt to swallow No. 4 carrier T-Mobile in January. The botched deal was rather pricey, resulting in a $6.7 billion loss for the company.
On the bright side, it hit a new record with Apple
The next earnings release showed a big sequential drop in iPhone sales, and reducing the margin-sucking effects of Apple's device helped AT&T beat estimates. This echoed Verizon's
The last earnings report in particular has been a notable catalyst, as shares have gained 9% since.
How it stacks up
Let's see how AT&T compares to its largest peers.
We'll add in some more fundamental metrics for more clues.
Sales Growth (5-year rate)
Net Margin (TTM)
Source: Reuters. TTM = trailing 12 months.
Verizon looks to be the strongest of the trio. Both Sprint and AT&T have made bold moves in recent years that have proven to be mistakes. AT&T-Mobile never materialized and Ma Bell's bottom line took a big hit as a result. Sprint bet big on 4G WiMAX, which ended up losing the 4G wars to LTE. Meanwhile, Verizon's sizable wagers on Google Android and LTE have both proven to be successful.
AT&T is now shifting its attention to a new belle of its blue ball -- the Nokia
As AT&T continues to focus on non-iPhone devices, it could see its margins rise. But ultimately, the consumer has the final say on which device they take home.
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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, Verizon Communications, and AT&T, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, and Nokia. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.