John Stephens, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of AT&T Inc.* (NYSE:T), spoke today at the Credit Suisse Communications Conference, where he provided an update to shareholders.
Wireless. AT&T’s 5G network covered 120 million people at the end of the first quarter and today covers more than 160 million people in 327 markets. The company expects to reach nationwide 5G coverage this summer.1 Stephens said AT&T has surpassed 80% completion of its planned FirstNet build. At the end of the first quarter, AT&T had 1.3 million FirstNet subscribers across more than 12,000 agencies.
COVID-19. Stephens said the company is still evaluating the near- and long-term impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. He said AT&T has limited visibility on the pandemic’s impact on the overall economy and how long the effects will continue to be seen. However, Stephens reiterated that the company has confidence in its ability to generate cash given the resiliency of its wireless services, broadband and business connectivity operations.
Financial Strength. Stephens said he expects the company to continue aligning its operations to the new customer demand model, with continued transformation and cost savings allowing it to maintain its commitment to paying a dividend to shareholders, invest in key growth areas of the business — 5G, fiber and HBO Max — and reduce debt.
For 2020, the company expects with the dividend payout ratio to be in 60’s% range for the full year. AT&T recently issued $12.5 billion in near-term debt to refinance debt with 2020 and 2021 maturity dates, which gives the company additional financial flexibility.
1 Requires a compatible device and plan for 5G and 5G+ connections. Limited AT&T 5G and 5G+ availability. May not be available in your area. For coverage details visit att.com/5Gforyou.