Stocks to buy

AT&T Is a High-Yield Telecom Holding for All Investors

For generations of investors, telecommunications giant AT&T (NYSE:T) has been as solid as a rock. However, the performance of T stock during the past few years has disappointed some shareholders.

Sign of AT&T (T) posted in a wooden wall

Source: Lester Balajadia / Shutterstock.com

It’s challenging to pinpoint what went wrong. One commentator described AT&T’s $85 billion purchase (plus debt) of Time Warner in 2018 as “one of the greatest corporate strategy blunders of recent decades.”

Others may cite AT&T’s spin-off of DirecTV and/or the in-progress merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia entertainment division with Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) as problematic.

So, is it time to give up on this legacy communications icon? Not necessarily, as AT&T is still capable of wheeling and dealing while maintaining its stature as a titan of telecom tech.

A Closer Look at T Stock

Going all the way back to 2007, there’s granite-hard resistance for T stock at the $43 level. As 2021 moves into its final weeks, we’re nowhere near that price point. Still, it could prove to be a sensible profit target in 2022.

For the time being, investors should look towards the 52-week high of $33.88. Heck, anything in the $30s would be a step in the right direction.

From mid-May through early December, T stock has been in a relentless bear market. Hence, momentum-focused traders might be persuaded to avoid AT&T completely.

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. After the multi-month share-price slide, value hunters might be ready to take a position in AT&T.

Yet, believe it or not, AT&T’s trailing 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is 176.46. You didn’t expect it to be that high, did you? That number might decline over time. It’s not as if AT&T isn’t generating any earnings — in fact, the company reported adjusted earnings per share of 87 cents during 2021’s third quarter.

Meanwhile, AT&T offers a generous forward annual dividend yield of 9.07%. Income investors, therefore, can hold T stock and collect those delicious quarterly payouts.

Big Order for Sea-Bound Data

Since AT&T isn’t a market darling, it’s easy to forget just how well-connected this company is. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Just recently, AT&T announced a multi-million-dollar deal with none other than the U.S. government.

More specifically, AT&T has been tasked with consolidating the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)’s data communications networks onto a single data communications platform. This provision is delineated through a task order from the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, which is the Defense Information Systems Agency’s contracting arm.

Without a doubt, this is a highly coveted order. If all options are exercised, the arrangement with the USCG could be worth $161 million over 11 years.

There’s a bigger-picture implication here, as well, since this deal effectively makes AT&T the USCG’s primary provider of data telecommunications services globally.

A Fuller Fiber Footprint

While AT&T will be busy providing mission-critical services for the U.S. military, the company certainly doesn’t intend to neglect its commitment to technological innovation and expansion.

Admittedly, AT&T could have made better progress in establishing itself as a fiber-market contender. CEO John Stankey recently acknowledged this, expressing regret that AT&T didn’t pursue the fiber market more aggressively over the last decade or so. Stankey admitted, “I would have liked to have maybe been further along than 15 million fiber homes.”

However, AT&T could win the war even if it lost the early battles. Concerning the company’s fiber footprint, Stankey stated, “we are where we are and we’re now scaling quite rapidly.”

How rapidly?  To be more precise, AT&T plans to double its fiber coverage to 30 million locations by 2025. At the same time, Stankey won’t hesitate to capitalize on U.S. broadband deployment projects funded, at least in part, by the infrastructure bill.

The recently passed bill allocates $42.45 billion toward helping states fund broadband deployment projects. “I think we’re going to be in a very unique position to help states” build out those projects and connect underserved consumers, Stankey affirmed.

The Bottom Line

There are reasons to avoid T stock, if you’re looking for them. You might be deterred by AT&T’s current P/E ratio, or the company’s complicated Discovery merger deal.

However, there are also reasons to like AT&T. The company offers a tasty dividend yield, and is still a big-time player in the U.S. communications market.

So, don’t be too quick to just give up on AT&T. From defense data to a foray into fiber, this telecom leviathan still has plenty of clout.

On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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