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As Store Lines Build for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5, AT&T (NYSE:T) Hopes to Benefit

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Apple becomes entangled in yet another patent lawsuit.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL This is a big week for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) with the launch of its iPhone 5 beginning tomorrow, and with the release of its new mobile operating sytem iOS 6 yesterday. While analysts like Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray expect Apple to sell up to 10 million iPhone 5s this weekend, other analysts predit AT&T (NYSE:T) will benefit from the expected record-breaking number of iPhone sales. SeekingAlpha reports that Ativo Research, Jefferson Research, Market Edge, and Ford Equity Research have all raised their ratings to either most favorable or very favorable with a buy or strong buy recommendation. Starmine has ranked the wireless carrier as "very bullish."

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone for AT&T, and it accounted for more than half of the company's activations from June through August of this year, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners told AllThingsD in an interview.

CEO and Chairman of AT&T Randall Stephenson said at a technology conference hosted by Goldman Sachs in New York on Wednesday that iPhone 5 is "selling very, very well." Apple reported earlier in the week that 2 million iPhones were pre-ordered within 24 hours of availability. AT&T has benefited from an overall strong smartphone market as Stephenson stated, "We're having record sales with iPhones, and across the board, the portfolio of all that the smartphone business is hot." Insider buying indicates top company executives also expect AT&T's stock to increase in value. Executives bought 2.1 million shares during August versus the selling of 77,000 shares. AT&T expects to sell 25 million smartphones for 2012 and increase wireless profit margins by 40%.

Sprint (S) CEO Dan Hesse echoed similar sentiments on Wednesday at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference, stating that he expects the iPhone 5 to be a strong-selling device.

AT&T has activated 10 new Long Term Evolution, or LTE, networks across the United States this week presumably to meet the demand for Apple's new smartphone. Also known as 4G, the iPhone 5 will be Apple's first 4G LTE smartphone. Oddly, though, AT&T did not mention the iPhone 5 in the press release announcing the new networks. AppleInsider reports that AT&T has established 4G networks in the following cities:
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Sacramento, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Wilmington, Delaware
The phone carrier company has already established LTE networks in nine markets, and it has stated that it will add 34 more 4G networks before the end of 2012.
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