Dow Darling AT&T Earnings Call Nuggets: International Acquisitions and Project VIP

Dow component AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

International Acquisitions

Phil Cusick – JPMorgan: I guess two quick ones. First, Randall, you were quoted recently as – I don’t know if this is right or not, but saying that international or European acquisitions may be inevitable to continuing growth. Can you address that for us? Then second for John. Blowing through this buyback by midyear, that’s great. What do you think about the potential to reauthorize and how does the Board think about that so far?

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Randall L. Stephenson – Chairman and CEO: Yeah, sure Phil. As it relates to international, I was asked about consolidation and I said some level of consolidation was inevitable. Obviously, we don’t comment on M&A rumors. But here’s what I’d ask you to think about. As you consider what’s happened in the last five years in the U.S., it has been impressive, what’s transpired in the mobile Internet revolution, and the U.S. has been outpacing the rest of the globe fairly considerably. I think most people expect the rest of the world will catch up. So the question we have to ask is, are there opportunities for us to participate in that growth outside the U.S.? We look at this from a lot of different ways. As more and more people around the world begin to deploy LTE, there are probably some opportunities to create some unique roaming arrangements where we roam on each other’s networks at different cost structures, which may change that dynamic somewhat; the opportunities to partner, like you’ve seen us partnering in China, our China Telecom deal that we did, and you’ll probably see those kind of deals more and more in the Mobility side.

Do you invest at the infrastructure level is a big question. And there’s really another aspect to it, and that is, can you participate in this growth outside the U.S. at the application level, and this year is going to be very instructive in that regard to us, because services like Digital Life, which is really – I mean it’s an over-the-top application for home security and monitoring and so forth, and is it possible to carry those platforms outside the U.S.; we are already licensing that platform to companies in Europe. And so, can those platforms be extended in an over-the-top model outside the U.S. So, as we kind of look at this, we do believe the U.S. experience will be replicated outside the U.S. and we’re just trying to decide, how is that we would participate in that and there are a lot of avenues for that.

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