AT&T CEO Expects Time Warner Deal to Happen 'This Year'

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Excluding merger-and integration-related and other items, AT&T earned 74 cents a share, up two pennies the year-ago period and in-line with the average analyst estimate on Thomson Reuters.

Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant's first-quarter profit dropped to $3.56 billion or $0.56 per share from $3.89 billion or $0.61 per share a year ago.

Cash from operations was $9.2B; free cash flow came to $3.2B. Postpaid phone churn was at a record low of.90%.

"In a very competitive quarter, we continued to execute on our goals of driving efficiencies in our business while growing adjusted earnings per share", said Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and CEO.

For the first quarter, AT&T's wireless revenues totaled $17.2 billion, down 4.4 percent year over year due to decreases in service and equipment revenues. Analysts were looking for $40.53 billion. AT&T also announced acquisitions of Fiber Tower and Straight Path to add millimeter wave spectrum assets to spruce up 5G.

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Total business wireline revenues were $7.4 billion, down 7 percent year over year. AT&T also said it had 1.8 million connected devices on the 2G network it shut down in January; those 2G customers were removed from the company's subscriber count at the beginning of the year.

The American wireless giant said it added 2.7 million wireless customers including 2.1 million in the USA, driven by prepaid and connected devices.

Smaller rivals like T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS) and Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) have engaged in aggressive price wars, and it appears that's catching up to AT&T. AT&T said in a statement to ZDNet that it is evaluating its next move. The telecom giant now expects adjusted EPS growth in the mid-single digit range and adjusted operating margin expansion, with free cash flow in the $18 billion range. It was the first time AT&T has lost wireless customers.

AT&T is in the midst of acquiring Time Warner for $85 billion, and the telecommunications company said Tuesday that it expects approval from the U.S. Department of Justice this year.