Should AT&T go on a buying spree?

AT&T's fourth-quarter profit drop of more than 23 percent has not stopped analysts from suggesting that the timing is right for the mega-carrier to engage in acquisitions outside of the U.S. market. Attendees of the Telecom Finance conference in London said that while the U.S. market teeters, there could be buying opportunities for AT&T in Asia and elsewhere, opportunities that other international carriers may sieze if AT&T ignores them.

In the last year or so, AT&T and Verizon Communications both have renewed efforts to look beyond the U.S. for new revenue opportunities. That brings up the old issue of whether or not U.S. carriers need to keep pace with the expansion of other international carriers. In past years, it seemed a matter of national pride for some, but now, there may be plenty of other things to worry about.

Asked about acquisition possibilities on AT&T's fourth-quarter earnings call yesterday, CEO Randall Stephenson said deals would not be a priority, and he added that the company was satisfied coming off its final quarter of merger adjustments related to the BellSouth acquisition.

For more:
- Marketwatch has this report

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AT&T this week reported a fourth quarter profit dip
Telco acquisitions for the most part slowed in 2008

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