AT&T sheds more lucrative wireless customers in 1Q

Posted April 26, 2017

In the critical wireless segment, AT&T lost 191,000 postpaid phone subscribers, compared with analysts projections of a drop of 245,000, as competition in the quarter ratcheted up with service providers fighting for share with new unlimited-data plans.

AT&T did not disclose updated sub numbers for DirecTV Now, the OTT TV service it launched last November, but noted that DirecTV Now gains helped to offset its decline in linear TV subscribers.

Among individual areas of the company, AT&T pulled in $9.02 billion in video entertainment revenues, up 1.3%, and high-speed Internet revenues of $1.94 billion, up 7.7%.

AT&T reported first-quarter earnings in line with expectations Tuesday afternoon, but all eyes were on the telecom giant's proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

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The American wireless giant said it added 2.7 million wireless customers including 2.1 million in the US, driven by prepaid and connected devices.

AT&T did add 282,000 prepaid customers, who pay less.

AT&T, like its telecommunications rival Verizon Communications Inc., faced heightened competition from unlimited-data plans offered by T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp.

In all for the March quarter, AT&T's earned $3.5 billion, or 56 cents a share, down from $3.8 billion, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier.

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The company, though, fell just shy of predictions for revenue, reporting $39.4 billion as opposed to the $40.1 billion expected by analysts.

During the quarter, AT&T added almost 4,000 high-speed IP broadband business subscribers. The company expects adjusted EPS growth in the mid-single digit range, adjusted operating margin expansion, capital expenditures in the $22 billion range, and free cash flow in the $18 billion range. AT&T reported its best ever first-quarter postpaid phone churn of 0.9 percent and wireless postpaid churn of 1.12 percent.

The company, which is in the process of Time Warner Inc, also said it would no longer give a full-year revenue forecast due to the unpredictability of wireless handset sales.

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