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AT&T's quarterly results match Street expectations

AT&T Inc (T.N), the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, reported quarterly results that matched analysts’ estimates, as it added more smartphone customers in a saturated wireless market, and said it was confident its deal to buy Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) would be approved.

Thirteen Democratic senators on Wednesday asked AT&T to explain how its planned $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner is in the public interest.

In October, the company said it would buy Time Warner, a deal that was objected by U.S. President Donald Trump during his election campaign.

AT&T is banking on the deal to boost its media offerings such as over-the-top services and to gain control of cable channels such as HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros.

AT&T bought DirecTV in 2015 as part of its plans to diversify from its wireless phone business, which has been struggling amid competition from smaller rivals T-Mobile U.S. Inc (TMUS.O) and Sprint Corp (S.N).

AT&T said last week that it added more than 200,000 paying subscribers to its video streaming service DirecTV Now and about 900,000 branded U.S. wireless subscribers in the latest quarter.

Shares of AT&T were flat after the close of regular trading.

Although margins improved in the quarter, net income attributable to the company fell to $2.44 billion, or 39 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $4.01 billion, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a pretax loss of about $1 billion and other items, the company earned 66 cents per share in the latest quarter, in line with the average analyst estimate.

Revenue fell to $41.84 billion, missing the average estimate of $42.04 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Looking ahead to this year, AT&T said it expects consolidated revenue growth in the low-single digits on a percentage basis and adjusted EPS growth in the mid-single digit range. Capital spending is estimated around $22 billion, similar to levels spent in 2016.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Bernard Orr)