AT&T (T) closed its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in June 2018, giving the telecom giant control over lucrative media brands Warner Bros. and HBO, which makes the hit show "Game of Thrones." The takeover comes amid an intensifying streaming war between Netflix (NFLX), Disney (DIS) and others. But the bulk of AT&T revenue still comes from its wireless business. The ongoing 5G rollout is set to have a huge impact on network bandwidth and could spark a flood of phone upgrades. But AT&T earnings growth is slowing. Is AT&T stock a buy right now?
AT&T Stock Technical Analysis
AT&T stock hit an all-time high of 59.94 back in 1999. Two decades later, the stock is trading nearly 50% below that peak.
Investors shouldn't consider this to be a "discount" or think that AT&T stock is "on sale." Investor's Business Daily combines chart analysis with fundamental analysis to decipher whether or not it's an ideal time to buy a stock.
Looking at the short-term picture for AT&T stock, shares have gained about 15% since bottoming late last December. When investors are looking for top stocks to buy, it's ideal to see a stock shaping a proper chart pattern. Our extensive research shows that chart patterns are the launchpads that kick off virtually all major stock moves.
We're not seeing a base for AT&T stock, even though shares are up in 2019.
And the relative strength line, which measures price performance vs. the S&P 500, is still at all-time lows. That's telling because it shows that AT&T stock has only kept pace with the broader market, rather than show true strength itself.
But our AT&T stock analysis doesn't stop there.
AT&T Stock Fundamentals: AT&T Q1 Earnings
Fundamental analysis is a key component of determining whether a stock is worth buying. AT&T earnings for Q1 were in line with expectations while revenue missed. AT&T earnings hit an adjusted 86 cents a share, up a penny from last year. Revenue rose nearly 18% to $44.8 billion, reflecting its 2018 Time Warner takeover. Analysts had expected revenue growth of 18.6%.
Analysts expect AT&T earnings to rise just 2.3% in 2019 and another 2% in 2020, according to Zacks. Meanwhile, revenue is projected to grow 7.7% in 2019 and just 0.9% in 2020. Top stocks typically have quarterly earnings growth of 25% or more, and it's especially bullish if that growth shows acceleration. Consistently strong double-digit sales growth that shows acceleration is another trait of top stocks.
AT&T 5G Network, Telecom Rivals
Like other U.S. wireless carriers, AT&T is currently rolling out its 5G network. AT&T's 5G network is currently active in 19 cities, but outside of a hot-spot device, a 5G-enabled phone is not yet available for AT&T's network. That has left some to criticize AT&T's advertisements about "5G E," which is a rebrand of its 4G LTE Advanced Pro network.
AT&T rival Verizon (VZ) fell on its Q1 results, but the stock is performing better than AT&T. Verizon stock is looking to hold within a base pattern and is much closer to all-time highs than AT&T. Even so, Verizon stock fell below its 50-day line after reporting weak revenue on April 22, pushing its RS line to a six-month low.
A merger between Sprint (S) and T-Mobile US (TMUS) is in question after reports of regulatory opposition surfaced in mid-April. A Sprint/T-Mobile deal could help AT&T and Verizon by easing price competition. But that's why many criticize the deal.
T-Mobile stock is holding near highs as it nears a buy point, while Sprint stock is well off highs but consolidating.
AT&T Acquisition Of Time Warner
The AT&T acquisition of Time Warner in mid-2018 "brought together one of the best collections of premium video content, a large base of direct-to-consumer relationships, high-speed networks optimized for video, and an advertising technology platform that will make premium video advertising more relevant and valuable," the company said in its annual report.
HBO's hit show "Game of Thrones" is now in its eighth and final season. A record 17.4 million viewers watched the premiere across television, HBO Go and HBO Now. But after the show's final episode airs, industry experts are wondering how difficult it might be for the TV network to create a new show with the same level of fandom. This, along with the higher price point and library limitations compared with Netflix, could potentially impact the churn rate of the $15-a-month streaming service HBO Now.
AT&T's own streaing service, set to compete against Netflix and Disney+, is due out in late 2019. And elsewhere in AT&T's involvement in video streaming, the company in mid-April announced the $1.43 billion sale of its 9.5% stake in Hulu, which is majority-owned by Disney. One of AT&T's top priorities in 2019 is paying down its debt load. Analysts say the Hulu deal will help AT&T deleverage.
Is AT&T Stock A Buy Right Now?
AT&T stock does not have a proper base or buy point. Even if it did, stagnant earnings and weak technicals are negatives. Bottom line: AT&T is not a buy right now.