AT&T CFO John Stephens (pictured) used an investor event to dismiss recent concerns from analysts about the impact of a US C-Band spectrum (3.7GHz to 4.2GHz) sale on its balance sheet, stating it could easily handle a commitment to pay more than $23 billion for licences.
Stephens explained the operator had more than “$30 billion of ability to handle any down payments pretty easily” from its cash reserves and a $14.7 billion loan secured last month.
He added approximately half of the C-Band spectrum it bid for is due to become available by end-2021, allowing it to “stay extremely competitive, if not lead, going forward”.
Looking ahead, he said AT&T remained committed to providing a dividend to shareholders and planned capex of $21 billion this year, compared with $19.7 billion in 2020.
He added that even after making these investments the operator expected to generate $26 billion in free cash flow, leaving “plenty of money to pay out the dividend and a very reasonable” ratio.
AT&T bid $23.4 billion to acquire 1,621 C-band licences with the sum due by 24 March.
Last month, MoffetNathanson warned in a research note “AT&T, in particular, will face unwelcome choices about promotions and service pricing and, eventually, about dividends and diversification”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back