AT & T ups U-verse target, quarterly dividend; announces share buyback
On Tuesday, AT&T Inc. set a new long-term goal for its U-verse TV service, announced that its board of directors has approved a 12.7 percent increase in the company's quarterly dividend and announced a new 400 million share repurchase authorization.
The telco said its U-verse service will be available to 30 million customers by 2010. AT&T recently shifted its coverage target for the end of next year, from 18 million homes to 17 million. As of September, AT&T had 126,000 U-verse subscribers. The company expects to spend between $4.5 billion and $5 billion on U-verse through 2008.
The increase in AT&T’s quarterly dividend marks the largest annual increase in the company's history. The company’s directors increased the quarterly dividend rate from $0.355 to $0.40 a share on a quarterly basis, and from $1.42 to $1.60 a share on an annual basis.
The new share repurchase authorization replaces the authorization announced in 2006, when AT&T repurchased more than $13 billion of its shares through Dec. 7, 2007. AT&T will buy back the 400 million shares, which represent about 7 percent of the company’s stock. AT&T expects to complete the repurchases available in the new authorization by the end of 2009.
"This latest dividend increase, combined with the new share repurchase authorization, reflects the strength of AT&T's operations, and our board's confidence in the future of our business, and our ability to continue to deliver strong results," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and CEO.
The dividend will be payable on Feb. 1 to common shareowners of record on Jan. 10. The timing and nature of repurchases are subject to market conditions and applicable securities laws.