Investor Alert

Key Words Archives | Email alerts

Sept. 13, 2022, 7:24 a.m. EDT

AT&T CEO says Wall Street critics are wrong about the company’s promotions

Watchlist Relevance

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)
  • X
    T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS)
  • X
    AT&T Inc. (T)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Emily Bary

AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey shot back at the critics who say AT&T Inc.’s recent growth has been fueled by hefty promotional activity, telling investors at a Monday conference that numerous factors are behind the company’s subscriber momentum.

The telecommunications giant added a net of 813,000 postpaid phone subscribers in its latest quarter, more than rivals Verizon Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ +0.76% and T-Mobile US Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204659678/composite TMUS -0.40% combined. The company has logged similarly sized subscriber hauls for numerous quarters, traction some analysts attribute to the company’s promotional tactics — AT&T /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +0.68% has focused not only on adding new subscribers, but offering comparable deals to existing subscribers so that they’ll stay with the company.

Read: Here are the iPhone 14 deals from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon as preorders begin

Stankey said Monday that those focused on AT&T’s consumer wireless deals misunderstand the broader story of the company’s growth.

“We’ve had great share shifts that have occurred in certain segments of the market,” including the public-sector business, Stankey said at a Goldman Sachs conference Monday. AT&T’s public-sector momentum is “not based on promotion” but rather the company’s investments in improving its public-safety network in ways that allow AT&T to “penetrate into a segment that we were previously grossly underpenetrated in.”

Additionally, AT&T has “seen that same dynamic move into the upper end and mid part of the business market where our share performance has improved,” he said, according to a transcript of the presentation provided by Sentieo.

Read: Verizon says it’s ‘very challenging being the premium brand’ but that new efforts will pay off

While Goldman Sachs analyst Brett Feldman acknowledged Stankey’s commentary about the more business-oriented aspects of AT&T’s business that aren’t linked to heavy promotions, he also said that AT&T’s consumer offers are clearly playing some role in AT&T’s subscriber hauls, which come as the broader industry has seen subscriber growth well in excess of population expansion for years.

AT&T’s promotional strategy is working, Feldman said, but it leads investors to wonder what will happen to the industry, and the company, when consumer demand for the wireless sector slows.

Stankey said that even the consumer aspect of AT&T’s promotional tactics gets misinterpreted. While device subsidies are “one element” of the cost that AT&T takes on to acquire or retain a customer, he said the company has also adopted a more understandable model for customers that lets the company “spend less money communicating the message.”

“We are getting probably the best yields in our promotional advertising that we’ve ever done, but we’re not spending nearly at the levels we’ve historically spent, and I will tell you, we’re not spending at the top of the industry right now,” he said.

Don’t miss: T-Mobile announces $14 billion share-buyback program

See also: T-Mobile sees huge demand for $3 billion bond deal despite September borrowing blitz by big companies

Stankey offered that a lower-growth landscape wouldn’t necessarily be worse for the company.

“I would tell you our equation very much hangs together when you look at the overall aggregate view of this,” he said.

$ 37.17
+0.28 +0.76%
Volume: 23.07M
Dec. 7, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$154.93 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 148.79
-0.60 -0.40%
Volume: 4.65M
Dec. 7, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$185.86 billion
Rev. per Employee
$ 19.30
+0.13 +0.68%
Volume: 45.38M
Dec. 7, 2022 4:03p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$136.62 billion
Rev. per Employee

Get news alerts on AT&T Inc. — or create your own.
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.