AT&T posts 4Q loss on charges; revenue increases

NEW YORK (AP) ? AT&T Inc. is still the home of the iPhone. It activated 7.6 million of them in the latest quarter, accounting for one out of every five iPhones sold globally.

The figure beat Verizon Wireless’ 4.3 million iPhone activations handily. But those sales come with a cost to AT&T and the millions of iPhone activations isn’t an unalloyed good. AT&T spends hundreds of dollars for subsidies to put those phones customers’ hands.

That, together with massive charges for adjustments in the value of the company’s pension plans, the breakup of the deal to buy T-Mobile USA and a writedown of the value of its phone-directory business, forced AT&T to post a massive loss on Thursday of $6.68 billion, or $1.12 per share, for the fourth quarter.

It’s the first quarterly loss in three years. In the previous loss, in the fourth quarter of 2008, adjustments to pension-plan obligations were also a culprit.

Excluding charges, net income was 42 cents per share, a penny shy of Wall Street expectations, according to a poll by FactSet.

The loss compares with net income of $1.09 billion, or 18 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 3.6 percent to $32.5 billion, helped by smartphone sales. Analysts were expecting revenue of $31.99 billion, on average.

In premarket trading Thursday, shares of AT&T Inc. fell 71 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $29.53.