Named after Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was born in 1875. It became a worldwide name in 2005, after it merged with Southwestern Bell Corporation.

Key Takeaways

  • AT&T became globally prominent after its 2005 merger with Southwestern Bell Corporation.
  • As of June 2020, AT&T is one of the largest U.S. companies by market cap at $203 trillion.
  • Vanguard is AT&T’s largest institutional shareholder, with 596.4 million shares.
  • Randall Stephenson, 13-year chief executive officer, is AT&T’s largest individual shareholder.

In the present day, AT&T is a global telecommunications leader. It delivers consumers and businesses leading internet protocol (IP) services, as well as wi-fi, landline, television, and mobile services. It is one of the U.S. market’s largest companies by market cap at $203 trillion as of June 2020.

As one of the world’s largest telecom giants, it has made some big moves over the years. In 2018, AT&T (T) attempted to merge with Time Warner (TWX) but ran into some opposition from the government. The State Department sued the two companies to prevent the merger from going forward. On June 12, 2018, the verdict of the antitrust case that the U.S. Government brought against the AT&T-Time Warner deal came in favor of a merger. Two days later the companies merged. Time Warner also changed its name to WarnerMedia, as a subsidiary of AT&T.

The WarnerMedia acquisition helped AT&T improve its positioning against competitor Comcast, who had recently bought media company NBC-Universal. Later in June of 2018, AT&T also took some steps to compete with Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB), acquiring technology advertising company AppNexus for around $1.6 billion.

In the race for 5G, AT&T is a frontrunner. It has partnerships with Samsung and LG for the market’s best available 5G mobile devices. As of June 2020, it also has 5G coverage availability in 44 U.S. states.

In April of 2020, the company released its first quarter 2020 earnings results. Its gross revenue was $42.8 billion, with operating income of $7.5 billion, and net income of $4.96 billion. On its balance sheet, it had stockholders’ equity of $195 billion. On the cash flow statement, it reported cash and equivalents of $10 billion.

Like most all publicly traded companies, shares of AT&T stock are held by both institutional shareholders and individual shareholders. Here's a round-up of the top shareholders for AT&T.


Vanguard is by far the largest institutional shareholder of AT&T. The institutional fund manager owns a combined 596.4 million shares, for a market value of approximately $17.3 billion. Across all of its products, Vanguard collectively manages around $6.2 trillion.

Vanguard’s top holding of AT&T in mutual funds and ETFs include the following:

Vanguard Funds
Vanguard Funds.

Other Institutional Shareholders

Other institutional shareholders of AT&T include:

Institutional Shareholders
Institutional Shareholders.

Randall L. Stephenson

For the direct shareholders, Randall Stephenson tops the list. Stephenson was AT&T's chief executive officer (CEO) for 13 years. His reign ends June 30, 2020, when he turns over the job to John Stankey. As of June 2020, Stephenson owns 1.328 million shares for a market value of $38.5 million. Stephenson was instrumental in transitioning the company from traditional phone lines to wireless services, beginning in 2007. Stephenson also led several acquisitions, helping AT&T expand its public wi-fi footprint, offer a variety of web and video services, and build out its 4G network. Stephenson has served in a variety of roles, including marketing, operations, and finance. He served as the company’s chief operating officer (COO) from 2004 until his appointment as CEO in 2007.

John J. Stephens

John J. Stephens is the senior executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of AT&T. Stephens is the second-largest individual shareholder with 509,452 shares, translating to a market value of $14.77 million. Stephens began his career with Ernst & Young as a tax senior manager. He joined AT&T in 1992 as the director of federal taxes in St. Louis, Missouri. In June 2011, he was appointed to his current CFO position.

Rafael de la Vega

Rafael de la Vega is a former vice chairman of AT&T, and former CEO of its business solutions and international divisions. He retired from AT&T at the end of 2016. He owns 489,992 shares for a market value of $14.21 million.

De la Vega is a shining example of the American dream. He emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1962. Then he worked his way through school, ultimately earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northern Illinois University. In 2009, he co-authored the book Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life to provide career and life advice for young professionals.

De la Vega began his career with Southern Bell in 1974. Working his way up through the company through its evolution, he was promoted to president of BellSouth Latin America. After BellSouth, De la Vega began serving as the CEO of Cingular Wireless in 2004. In 2007, Cingular acquired AT&T Mobility through a merger. De la Vega became the CEO of AT&T Mobility, which led to his final years with AT&T. De la Vega retired on December 31, 2016.