Telecommunications giant AT&T (NYSE: T) will be calling in its fourth-quarter 2007 results before the market opens on Thursday. With all the negative sentiment in the market lately, does Ma Bell even have a chance? Let's take a look.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or hold the line? Twenty-seven analysts follow AT&T these days: 22 maintain a buy rating, four say hold, and one analyst recommends selling shares. AT&T ranks as a four-star stock in our Motley Fool CAPS community, where more than 2,740 players have given input on the company.  
  • Revenue. The average expectation for revenue this quarter is a healthy $30.5 billion.
  • Earnings. Profits are expected to climb 16%, to $0.71 per share.

What management says:
CEO Randall Stephenson sent the entire stock market into a tizzy two weeks ago when he blamed a softening consumer market for an increase in disconnections of AT&T's broadband and wire-line services. Though the comments knocked AT&T shares for about a 5% loss and dragged down the larger market, main rival Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) later said it saw no such impact on its business. On the bright side, Stephenson noted that wireless and enterprise business remains strong, noting that "wireless is proving to be fairly resilient, even in an economic downturn."

What management does:
With continued investments in its wireless network and services, AT&T continues to show impressive growth in this segment. And with rival Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) still languishing and bleeding customers, AT&T stands to benefit, and likely will deliver another exceptional quarter of wireless metrics.

06/06

09/06

12/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

Net Additions (millions)

1.5

1.4

2.4

1.2

1.5

2.0

Churn

1.7%

1.8%

1.8%

1.7%

1.6%

1.7%

ARPU

$48.89

$49.81

$49.33

$49.21

$50.63

$50.82

Source: AT&T.

One Fool says:
Once again, analysts will scrutinize AT&T's wireless results to find the impact of the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone. But investors need to look beyond this eye magnet, because several other areas of AT&T's business could flourish or flop, producing just as significant an impact on operations, if not moreso.

For starters, AT&T could be forced to cough up billions to outbid giants like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Verizon Wireless, and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) for valuable new spectrum offered in the U.S. Also, its U-Verse broadband video offering has struggled to deliver on subscriber targets, and the company will soon be rolling out a delayed mobile television service based upon Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM) MediaFLO technology.

Wireless has been a great performer for AT&T, but I'm concerned it may be flaunted this quarter to gloss over other significant parts of the company's business. Read past the headlines and highlights for the real meat.

For more Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Dave Mock gets his kicks on Route 66. He owns shares of Qualcomm and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy was seen in dark sunglasses and an oversized hat at the Yanni concert.