By Ben Fox Rubin
AT&T Inc. (T) boosted its buyback program by 300 million shares, as the telecommunications heavyweight seeks to bolster shareholder value.
The new authorization, which has no expiration date, was added to a program from 2010, also totaling 300 million shares, of which 143.5 million have been repurchased. As of April 30, AT&T had 5.86 billion shares outstanding.
AT&T is playing catch-up to Verizon Wireless in rolling out the high-speed mobile broadband network known as 4G LTE. Carriers hope the networks will draw new customers and help relieve capacity constraints on 3G services as more users download video and photos to their devices.
Dallas-based AT&T's plan to bolster its network by buying T-Mobile USA was thwarted by regulators late last year and the carrier has been hunting for more capacity to help feed heavy data consumers.
In April, AT&T said it grew its first-quarter profit, though it added fewer contract wireless customers than it did in the three preceding periods and trailed Verizon Wireless, as smartphone purchases slowed after customers rushed to buy new Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhones at the end of last year.
Shares closed Friday at $37.l4 and were up 1.5% after hours. As of the close, the stock was up 23% so far this year.
Write to Ben Fox Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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