The company’s CEO said that debt reduction remains the company’s top priority in 2019

AT&T met analysts’ expectations for its fourth quarter earnings but fell short of the predicted benchmark for new customer sign ups, prompting the US telco’s stock to dip 3 per cent in pre-market trading today. 

AT&T added 134,000 phone subscribers to its ranks in Q4 2018, well below analysts’ predictions of 208,000, according to research firm FactSet.  AT&T also lost 403,000 satellite TV customers in Q4 2018, as consumers opted for cheaper online streaming services. 

Despite the shortfall in new subscribers, the company’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, said that he was pleased with the company’s financial performance in Q4, reiterating that the company’s number one priority in 2019 was reducing its levels of debt. 

“Our top priority for 2018 and 2019 is reducing our debt and I couldn’t be more pleased with how we closed the year. In 2018, we generated record free cash flow while investing at near-record levels. Our dividend payout as a per cent of free cash flow was 46 per cent for the quarter and 60 per cent for the year, allowing us to increase the dividend for the 35th consecutive year,” said Stephenson. 

“This momentum will carry us into 2019 allowing us to continue reducing our debt while investing in the business and continuing our strong record for paying dividends,” he added. 

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