Today’s 4.51% drop in shares of AT&T (T) on a relatively mild revenue disappointment announced after the market close yesterday has considerably de-risked the stock. At the current 3:30 p.m. New York price of $30.25 the stock pays a dividend yield of 6.61%.
Yes, the threat of an appeal by the Justice Department of its court loss in a last-ditch attempt to stop the AT&T/Time Warner merger is possible but considering the court judge’s blistering review of the Justice Department’s lack of preparation and its failure to present a convincing legal rationale for blocking the deal, a reversal on appeal seems unlikely. (Of course, a reversal would hit the stock hard and in court cases nothing is ever guaranteed. But this is why the shares pay 6.6%.)
Yesterday the company reported second quarter earnings of 91 cents a share, 2 cents a share above the Wall Street consensus. Revenue fell 2.1% year over year to $38.99 billion. Which was still above the $38.45 billion analyst consensus. The company added 3.8 million wireless customers, 3.1 million of those in the United States. Total video subscriber adds came to 756,000 for the quarter.
AT&T raised guidance for fiscal 2018 to $3.50 a share in earnings against the $3.38 a share Wall Street projection. The company now projects free cash flow of nearly $21 billion (inclusive of deal and deal integration costs.) Capital investment will total $25 billion with $22 billion in net cash investments after expected reimbursements and vendor financing.
There’s no doubt that when the deal finally goes through AT&T will have a huge amount of work ahead of it as it works to use its newly acquired assets to grow its wireless and video business. Closing the gap with Netflix (NFLX) in international markets will be daunting. But 6.6% in dividends is an attractive payment while investors wait. I’m adding these shares to my Dividend Portfolio.