The SEC is dragging AT&T to court for illegally duping analysts into lowering expectations


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is suing AT&T for providing nonpublic information to 20 different analyst firms so they would lower revenue estimates ahead of earnings, according to a press release. That let AT&T “beat” expectations for the quarter when the information-sharing took place, turning what could have been some nasty headlines in the financial press into a win instead.

According to the SEC’s complaint (PDF), AT&T learned in March 2016 that its quarterly results would fall short of estimates due in part to “a steeper-than-expected decline in smartphone sales.” As you might recall, we used to live in a world where carriers like AT&T subsidized part of the cost of your smartphone, but by then AT&T had passed that…

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