AT&T Rising: Q1 Rev Misses, Year Profit Growth View Tops Consensus

AT&T posted record low postpaid phone sales and upgrade rates in its most recent quarter

AT&T posted record low postpaid phone sales and upgrade rates in its most recent quarter

AT&T, the biggest USA pay-television operator after its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, reported its video business lost 233,000 customers in the quarter.

DirecTV, though, remained flat at 21 million subscribers and DirecTV Now, the recently launched online service, helped to offset defections from U-verse, though the company did not disclose specifics.

AT&T is trying to diversify by buying Time Warner Inc TWX.N in a $85.4 billion deal that would give it control of cable channels like HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros.

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Most of those, 2.1 million, were from the U.S., driven by prepaid and connected devices. The company also said that customers are holding on to their phones longer, pressuring equipment sales.

AT&T finally made its unlimited-data plan available to all customers in the first quarter after offering it only to subscribers of its DirecTV service. In the competitive consumer wireless market, AT&T has been focused on retaining its most profitable customers and shying away from promotional offers to grab market share.

Excluding items, earnings per share matched analysts' consensus estimate of 74 cents according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue was expected at $40.53 billion.

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Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant's first-quarter profit dropped to $3.56 billion or $0.56 per share from $3.89 billion or $0.61 per share previous year.

The company posted revenues of $39.4 billion, missing analysts' expectations.

Revenues of $39.37 billion were off almost 3% year-over-year, and failed to reach the Street's consensus mark of $40.53 billion. The telecom giant now expects adjusted EPS growth in the mid-single digit range and adjusted operating margin expansion, with free cash flow in the $18 billion range.

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AT&T shares we unchanged in after-hours trading. But most telling was the 798,000 postpaid phone subscribers added to T-Mobile's customer logs during the first three months of the year. However, the company is no longer providing revenue guidance primarily due to the unpredictability of wireless handset sales.

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