AT&T (NYSE: T) reported their Q4 2019 earnings this morning, posting slow but steady growth and beating analyst expectations on the bottom line, but narrowly missing revenue estimates.

The media and telecom giant reported total revenues of $46.8 billion for the quarter which narrowly missed consensus estimates of $46.96 billion. Revenue for the quarter was 2.4% lower compared to the same quarter last year.

Revenues were hurt by the foregone content licensing revenue in preparation for HBO Max launch, which is expected in May as AT&T follows the lead of Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and others in spending heavily on content to compete in the streaming wars. In fact, AT&T reported that consolidated revenues for the company would have come in at $48 billion if the HBO investments had been excluded, which would have easily surpassed expectations.

We delivered what we promised in 2019 and we begin this year with strong momentum in wireless, with HBO Max set to launch in May and our share retirement plan well underway. Our 2020 outlook positions us to deliver meaningful progress on our 3-year financial and capital allocation plans as we continue to invest in growth opportunities and create value for our owners, as we did last year.AT&T chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson

On the bottom line, AT&T reported earnings per share of $0.89 for the quarter, up 3.5% compared to the same quarter last year and beating Wall Street estimates of $0.88.

AT&T’s decent earnings performance differs from the poor showing of rival Sprint (NYSE: S) who reported unimpressive results earlier this week and leading up to Verizon (NYSE: VZ) who will report earnings tomorrow.

AT&T also re-affirmed it’s guidance for 2020, which it expects will bring in revenue growth of 1%-2% over 2019 and see adjusted earnings per share of between $3.60 and $3.70. The slow but stable growth has been a hallmark for the venerable media and telecom incumbent and one of the reasons it is so popular with investors.

AT&T stock has likewise seen steady growth after these solid results and after a recent dividend increase late last year seems likely to continue the healthy performance. AT&T stock had a stellar 2019, gaining 45% over the course of the year but has traded basically flat over the course of 2020 thus far. The company’s stock was down just under 1% in pre-market trading immediately following the release of its results as of the time of publishing.

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