AT&T Adds Subs, Grows Profit, But Looks Up at Verizon

AT&T is making more money from smartphone data plans. That, plus a solid increase in subscribers, added up to a nice third quarter for the Dallas-based carrier.

The company’s profit rose nearly 5 percent from $3.64 billion in Q3 2012 to $3.81 billion in the latest quarter. The 66 cents-per-share earnings were a penny higher than Wall Street analysts were predicting. Revenue was up 2.2 percent, to $32.2 billion.

AT&T added 363,000 wireless customers to its rolls of on-contract subscribers. That was up from 151,000 during the same period a year ago.

The carrier is still looking up at Verizon, however, which added 927,000 subscribers on contract last quarter. Increased competition from T-Mobile, which Bloomberg predicts added more than 400,000 new customers, is also wearing on AT&T.

Three-quarters of all AT&T customers have smartphones. That’s helped boost its average revenue per user (ARPU) since owners of those handsets spend more on data.

Big things are on the horizon for AT&T. The company is widely considered to be mulling expansion into Europe with some sort of acquisition. And its purchase of Leap Wireless, which operates the low-cost prepaid carrier, Cricket Communications, is expected to close in the coming months.

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