AT&T Inc. chief financial officer John Stephens spoke last week at the Wells Fargo Global TMT conference, providing an update to shareholders and addressing the company’s approach to capital allocation. Stephens said AT&T will continue to invest in its businesses, both capital and content, while also supporting continued modest annual dividend growth and retiring shares. AT&T remains on track for full-year 2019 free cash flow in the $28 billion range, according to the executive.
The carrier expects to end 2019 with a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio in the 2.5x range. AT&T has already exceeded its $6-8 billion goal for non-core asset monetizations in 2019, and is targeting another $5 billion to $10 billion in 2020, as part of its continuing portfolio review. These could include sales of regional sports networks, additional real estate and additional tower receivables. Stephens said AT&T will continue to access a variety of debt markets and is also considering a preferred stock offering.
Stephens also discussed AT&T’s wireless business and plans for growth. Advancement in wireless is expected to be driven by network performance, targeted promotions and expanded sales opportunities from AT&T’s FirstNet build. Stephens said that while the wireless market remains competitive, he likes AT&T’s position given the company’s network advantages, including a strong spectrum position, new wireless plans and the ability to bundle content, specifically, HBO Max, with owner’s economics.
December 10, 2019