AT&T beats revenue estimates as reopening helps phone sales
(Reuters) -AT&T Inc beat Wall Street revenue targets as the reopening of the U.S. economy following pandemic-linked restrictions boosted smartphone sales and the media business
The company said on Thursday it added 595,000 net wireless phone subscribers in the first quarter, more than double what analysts had expected.
Shares of AT&T were up 1.5% to $30.55 in premarket trading.
The company has been investing heavily in its 5G wireless network and bundling free streaming service for HBO Max with certain phone plans to attract customers.
AT&T's controversial move to make its entire 2021 theatrical movies slate available to its streaming customers at the same time helped the company attract 2.7 milllion new subscribers for HBO and HBO Max.
The services now have a total of 44.2 million U.S. subscribers, AT&T said.
Its movie release of "Godzilla vs. Kong" has generated over $80 million at the U.S. box office and over $300 million globally as the No. 1 film over the past three weekends.
Revenue for AT&T was up nearly 3% at $43.9 billion, beating analysts' average estimate of $42.69 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
WarnerMedia, which includes HBO, began to recover from the ravages of the pandemic when sports events and movie productions were paused. Revenue for WarnerMedia rose 9.8% to $8.5 billion.
AT&T added 235,000 new fiber internet customers, as Americans continued to work from home during the pandemic, driving up demand for home Wi-Fi.
The company's net debt rose to $169 billion at the end of the first quarter, due to its purchase of more wireless spectrum, or airwaves that carry data.
Separately, rival Verizon Communications Inc has said it lost more wireless subscribers than expected during the first quarter as it battled intense competition from T-Mobile US Inc and AT&T to attract customers.
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Bernadette Baum)
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.