Over the holiday season, AT&T sold a record number of smartphones. But its quarterly earnings took a hit from pension costs and Hurricane Sandy.
On Thursday, AT&T reported a loss in the fourth quarter of $3.9 billion, or 68 cents a share, up from a loss of $6.7 billion, or $1.12 a share, from the same quarter a year earlier.
The company said revenue was essentially flat at $32.6 billion.
Its adjusted per-share earnings were 44 cents a share, excluding pension costs, the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the sale of its advertising units. Wall Street analysts had expected 45 cents a share on earnings of $32.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
"We had an excellent 2012," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive, in a statement. "Looking ahead, our key growth platforms -- mobile data, U-verse and strategic business services -- all have good momentum with a lot of headroom," Mr. Stephenson added.
The company, based in Dallas, said that it sold 10.2 million smartphones over the quarter, the most ever sold by any American carrier. A majority of those smartphones were iPhones: AT&T sold 8.6 million iPhones, in contrast with Verizon's 6.2 million iPhones. AT&T, the second biggest carrier after Verizon Wireless, is in the process of a major network expansion. It said late last year that it would invest an extra $14 billion to expand its wireless and broadband services through 2015. It expects that its fourth-generation network technology, called LTE, will cover 300 million people by the end of next year.
Beyond making upgrades to its wireless network, AT&T has plans to offer new services that might create new revenue streams. In March, it will begin selling its new wireless home security system, Digital Life, which will allow people to use tablets or phones to monitor their homes from afar. If a burglar trips a motion sensor in the house, for example, a user can receive a text message, then call the police. Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility, has said that he believes home security will be a big opportunity to increase revenue, because only 20 percent of American homes have security systems, leaving millions of homeowners as potential buyers.
Correction: January 24, 2013, Thursday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article published online misstated the expectation of Wall Street analysts for AT&T's quarterly per-share earnings. It was 45 cents, not 48 cents.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.