AT&T Reports Sharp Losses, Warns on Second Quarter

Telephone and cable television giant AT&T Corp. on Tuesday posted a first-quarter net loss due to stiff competition and weak prices, and warned its second-quarter earnings would be below Wall Street's current expectations.

AT&T, which plans to break into four separately traded companies beginning this summer, reported a net loss of $366 million in the first quarter, or 10 cents a share, compared with profits of $1.74 billion, or 54 cents a share a year ago.

Excluding other income and a goodwill impairment charge, earnings were 6 cents a share, a decrease of 82.4 percent from the 34 cents a share earned a year ago.

Wall Street analysts had expected the company's earnings before other income and goodwill to range from 4 cents a share to 9 cents a share, with a consensus forecast of 5 cents a share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

``Our business, along with others in the industry, continues to feel the impact of declines in long distance voice revenue. At the same time, we're focused on managing for profitability, paying down debt and executing on the strategic investments we've made in our next generation of end-to-end broadband businesses,'' said AT&T Chairman C. Michael Armstrong.

AT&T plans to split its major units -- consumer, business, broadband, and wireless -- into separately traded companies. The move dismantles nearly three years of bold acquisitions and reverses the company's strategy to become an ``all distance'' communications company that sold packages of local, long-distance, wireless telephone and Internet access services.

First-quarter revenues rose 5.4 percent to about $16.76 billion as growth in its wireless and broadband units offset shrinking sales in its core consumer and business long-distance operations.

Sales to consumers plunged 16.2 percent to $4.0 billion, while business sales fell 1.1 percent to $7.2 billion as pricing pressures offset an increase in calling volumes.

Wireless revenues jumped 46.2 percent to $3.2 billion. Average monthly revenues per wireless customer fell 7.4 percent to $62.20, due to competitive pricing pressures, expansion into a broader base of the consumer segment, and recent acquisitions.

AT&T Wireless, the No. 3 U.S. wireless telephone company, said it added 585,000 mobile customers, which was more than some analysts' forecasts of 525,000 to 535,000 new subscribers, bringing its subscriber base to 15.7 million.

AT&T's Broadband cable television revenues increased 10.9 percent to $2.5 billion, driven by higher sales in video operations, high-speed data and cable-based telephone services.

The broadband unit added about 153,000 broadband telephony customers, more than twice as many as the year-ago quarter, as well as 340,000 digital video customers, and about 206,000 high-speed data customers.

For the second quarter, AT&T expects earnings, excluding other income, to be in the range of 1 cent to 4 cents a share. That forecast excludes an impact of the AT&T Wireless exchange offer, which is part of the company's restructuring plan.

Wall Street analysts had expected the company to earn 8 cents a share in the second quarter, according to First Call.

Second-quarter pro forma revenue growth will be in a range similar to its first-quarter growth. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure of cash flow known as EBITDA, excluding other income, will be in the mid-$4 billion range.

AT&T said it was not able to accurately estimate full-year revenues, earnings or cash flow growth because of its restructuring. Still, it reaffirmed the 2001 guidance ranges it provided to investors in January for its four segments.

In January, AT&T warned pro forma revenues in its consumer unit would fall by mid-to high-teen rates in 2001, while business services unit would be flat.

Shares of AT&T have fallen about 55 percent over the past year amid concerns of weakness in the long-distance market, and uncertainty over the company's massive restructuring plan. The stock closed Monday at $21.98, down 94 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.