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AT&T profit up 0.3% as subscriber growth slows

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch)
AT&T Inc., the Dallas telecom major, reported that third- quarter net income and revenue were about flat with the year-earlier period
Profit edged up to $3.64 billion, or 63 cents a share, from $3.62 billion, or 61 cents, in the year-earlier quarter
Adjusted profit was 62 cents a share against 59 cents
Revenue slipped to $31.46 billion from $31.48 billion
A survey of analysts by FactSet Research produced consensus estimates of 60 cents a share of profit on $31.57 billion of revenue
In a Wednesday statement, AT&T said that its wireless business was strong, with 4.7 million Apple  iPhones activated and sales of Android and Windows  smartphones posting a record quarter
Average revenue per user for postpaid wireless subscribers rose 2.4% to $65.20

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By MarketWatch
AT&T Inc.'s /quotes/zigman/398198/quotes/nls/t T +0.54% third-quarter earnings edged up 0.3%, though revenue fell slightly as additions of contract subscribers slowed.

AT&T's wireless division had seen higher revenue and less turnover thanks in part to the increased use of smartphones. The company has said strong consumer demand for Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone 5 should help it meet its goal of selling at least 25 million smartphones this year. AT&T will also be the first U.S. telecommunications company to sell Nokia Corp.'s (NOK) latest Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 smartphones, which runs Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 software. Meanwhile, AT&T's growing base of U-verse television and high-speed Internet subscribers has helped it to offset declining revenue from its traditional wireline business.

AT&T reported a profit of $3.64 billion, or 63 cents a share, up from $3.62 billion, or 61 cents, a year earlier. When adjusted for the sale of Advertising Solutions, per-share earnings rose to 62 cents from 59 cents. Revenue fell 0.1% to $31.46 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast per-share earnings of 60 cents on revenue of $31.59 billion.

Operating margin dropped to 19.2% from 19.8%.

In the latest period, AT&T added 151,000 customers who signed long-term service contracts, down from 319,000 additions a year earlier and 320,000 additions in the second quarter. The company also added 678,000 total wireless subscribers, pushing its base to 105.9 million, up 5.1% from a year earlier.

Total postpaid churn, or customers who cancel services, was 1.08%, compared with 1.15% a year earlier and 0.97% in the prior quarter.

Total wireless revenue, including equipment sales, rose 6.6%, while wireless-service revenue climbed 4.5%. Total data revenue increased 6.9% and voice revenue was down 11%.

The company sold 6.1 million smartphones.

Total wireline revenue fell 1.6%. U-verse revenue rose 38% as the total number of U-verse subscribers climbed to 7.4 million from 6.8 million in the prior quarter.

Shares were trading 15 cents higher at $35.15 premarket. The stock has risen 21% over the past year, through Tuesday's close.