AT&T's total number of shares outstanding fell roughly 10 percent in the past month after its shareholders exchanged more than 372 million shares of common stock for more than 437 million shares of its AT&T Wireless Group tracking stock. AT&T Wireless will become an independent company this summer as part of the telecommunications company's plan to create separate wireless, broadband and business units.
Analysts were surprised more AT&T shareholders didn't take the company up on its offer, considering AT&T Wireless sales improved 46 percent in its most recent quarter while the parent company's sales rose only 5 percent in that same period. Shareholders who took up AT&T's offer received 1.176 shares of AT&T Wireless for each share of AT&T common stock. AT&T executives said the 10 percent reduction in shares outstanding will save the company about $60 million a share in dividend payments. In December, AT&T cut its annual dividend by 83 percent, the first reduction in the company's 125-year history.