Since the Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom Conference occurred during the same week as the final votes for U.S. president were counted, it was interesting to hear top wireless executives address how Trump’s administration might affect the way the industry moves forward on potential mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure developments, and innovation.
AT&T’s big reveal a couple weeks ago that it intends to purchase Time Warner in an $85.4 billion deal was a topic of conversation of course, especially given that many politicians, pundits, and presidential hopefuls lined up quickly after that announcement to express opinions – many dubious. For example, Hillary Clinton indicated through her running mate Tim Kaine that she thought regulators needed to scrutinize it carefully.
But more importantly now that we know the outcome of the election, Donald Trump came out swinging hard when he stated he opposed the deal because it would concentrate “too much power in too few hands.”
With Trump’s comment certainly in mind, AT&T CFO John Stephens was asked at the Wells Fargo conference for his company’s take on the election results. However, Stephens didn’t show particular trepidation for the president-elect’s direct stated opposition to AT&T/Time Warner.
Stephens said “from a company perspective, we really look forward to working with President-Elect Trump and his transition team,” and added that Trump’s proposed “policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development, and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals.”
Verizon Executive Vice President John Stratton also spoke at the investor conference and when asked about the presidential race results, he said he looked forward to seeing the country move beyond all the recent divisiveness. He also pointed to Trump’s promises to work on critical infrastructure issues within the United States as a big positive.
Stratton’s remarks tied in with a statement released on Wednesday by Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam that said the United States had “spent the last 18 months destructively searching for things to divide us.” McAdam also called for unity and added that the country should focus on building and rebuilding infrastructure.
Beyond politics at the conference, Stratton also spoke to potential future earnings at Verizon. The carrier experienced big drops in its subscriber addition numbers in the third quarter due to increased competition across the wireless market. Verizon reported just 442,000 retail postpaid net additions in the quarter, which compares to 1.2 million retail postpaid net additions in the year-ago quarter, and 615,000 last quarter.
Stratton told attendees there are typically seasonal increases from the third to fourth quarters. “I think we’ll see the same here. I do expect positive phone net adds and continued strength of our overall performance,” he predicted.