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Update: AT&T: U-Verse Available To 30 Million Homes in 2010; EchoStar Buy Unlikely; Strong Ad Growth

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At a meeting for analysts, AT&T (NYSE: T) said it expects U-Verse to be available in 30 million homes by the end of 2010, compared to 5.5 million as of its last quarter. The company has said it hopes to pass 17 million homes by the end of 2008, a number reiterated today. The promise of continued investment into U-Verse, which is seen as underperforming, suggests that an expensive bid for EchoStar (NSDQ: DISH) is unlikely. CEO Randall Stephenson was specifically asked whether he foresaw big mergers ahead. His response, according to Reuters, was that the company isn’t missing any big strategic pieces. This was music to investors’ ears, who have pushed the stock up over 5 percent, near $40, today. The company also announced an increased dividend and an expanded share buyback, which also help. Conversely, shares of EchoStar are down over 2 percent, as some of the takeout premium is getting let out. Release | Webcast and Slides

Advertising & search: Ray Wilkins, group president-Diversified Businesses, presented the opportunities for the company in advertising and search, much of which revolves around The company is aiming for 2 billion search queries in 2008 and 3 billion by 2010. Revenue is expected to grow by 30 percent annually over the time frame. Including expected contributions from mobile and broadband advertising, the company expects this business to go from $600 million in 2007 to $1.5 billion by 2010. Slides (pdf)

Update: Also at the event, John Stankey, head of AT&T’s telecom group, said the company would stop reselling satellite TV from DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) sometime in Q1 of next year. The company will still have a partnership with EchoStar, which will last through the end of next year. At that point, the company may partner with either company. Stankey (via Dow Jones): “We’ll be evaluating after 2008…We can be successful with either one.”