AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and CFO John Stephens Updates Shareholders
John Stephens, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of AT&T Inc.* (NYSE:T, news, filings), spoke today at the Citi Global TMT West Virtual Conference where he provided an update to shareholders. He addressed the following areas:
Customer-centric approach. Stephens said that AT&T’s significant investment in network performance, combined with attractive wireless device pricing for both new and existing customers, should continue to drive migrations to unlimited plans and momentum in the company’s wireless business.
Additionally, with the introduction of a hybrid distribution model for the Warner Bros. 2021 slate of movies, combined with new distribution deals with Xfinity and Roku, the company anticipates activations of HBO Max will continue to increase. In fact, Stephens said that the release of Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max contributed to high subscriber engagement over the holiday season and that AT&T will provide updated details on HBO Max subscribers when it announces fourth-quarter earnings.
Continued financial flexibility in 2021. AT&T expects to have the financial flexibility in 2021 to continue to invest in growth areas, sustain the dividend at current levels and focus on debt reduction. Stephens reiterated that in 2021, the company expects to generate free cash flow in the $26 billion range1 (exclusive of proceeds from potential asset divestitures), with gross capital investment in the $21 billion range.2 This builds upon management’s guidance of at least $26 billion of free cash flow in 2020.
Stephens also said that AT&T continues to take a thoughtful and thorough approach to monetizing non-core strategic assets and investing capital effectively. The company has refinanced more than $60 billion of debt at historically low rates and reduced its amount of debt coming due through 2025 by about $30 billion.
AT&T will provide its 2021 financial outlook and capital allocation guidance when it reports fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.
1 Free cash flow dividend payout ratio is total dividends paid divided by free cash flow. Free cash flow is cash from operating activities minus capital expenditures. Due to high variability and difficulty in predicting items that impact cash from operating activities and capital expenditures, the company is not able to provide a reconciliation between projected free cash flow and the most comparable GAAP metric without unreasonable effort.
2 Gross capital investment includes capital expenditures and cash payments for vendor financing and excludes expected FirstNet reimbursements