AT&T Inc.’s leadership says proudly that it’s delivering on its promises. Investors aren’t sure if they even like those promises.
Fourth-quarter results released Wednesday once again revealed how AT&T is struggling to justify CEO Randall Stephenson’s costly decision to turn a strong wireless company into a riskier communications and entertainment conglomerate. Earnings per share beat analysts’ expectations, thanks to a subsiding price war among the U.S. wireless carriers. But AT&T’s pay-TV operations continued to be a drag, losing 1.2 million subscribers during the period. That's nearly double the amount some analysts figured, based on estimates compiled by Bloomberg, while others predicted losses as high as 1 million. It brought total video disconnections for the year to 4.1 million, far outpacing cord-cutting at rivals such as Comcast Corp.