1-28-14 4:58 PM EST | Email Article

By John Kell


AT&T Inc. (T) swung to a fourth-quarter profit as the telecommunication giant added more wireless subscribers and booked a $7.6 billion pretax gain tied to pension accounting.


Shares of AT&T slid more than 1% in after-hours trading as the carrier added fewer premium wireless subscribers than some of its rivals.


In the latest period, AT&T added 566,000 customers who signed long-term service contracts, compared with 780,000 additions a year ago and 363,000 in the third quarter.


The latest gains trail the figures reported by Verizon Wireless, which added 1.6 million of the most profitable postpaid subscribers in the fourth quarter, and T-Mobile US Inc., (TMUS) which reported 800,000 additions.


AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two biggest U.S. wireless carriers, are facing renewed pressure from rivals T-Mobile and Sprint Corp. S -0.11% T-Mobile has been especially vocal, doing away with standbys like service contracts and international data fees in an effort to win new customers.


Looking ahead, AT&T sees 2014 revenue rising between 2% to 3%, while per-share adjusted earnings are expected to climb in the mid-single digit range.


Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted revenue growth of 2% and per-share earnings growth of about 8%.


For the fourth quarter, AT&T posted a profit of $6.91 billion, or $1.31 a share, compared with a prior-year loss of $3.86 billion, or 68 cents a share. Adjusted profit--excluding pension-related gains, charges and other items--grew to 53 cents a share from 44 cents.


Revenue climbed 1.8% to $33.16 billion.


Analysts expected an adjusted profit of 50 cents a share on $33.06 billion in revenue.


AT&T said the rate at which wireless contract customers left its network, called churn, improved to 1.11% from 1.19% a year earlier, but the figure increased from 1.07% the prior quarter.


Total wireless revenue, including equipment sales, jumped 4.5%, while total wireline revenue fell 1.4%.


Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal

-John Kell; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

01-28-14 1658ET

Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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