AT&T misses revenue estimates as coronavirus weighs on business

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FILE PHOTO: The company logo for AT&T is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc’s (T.N) first-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations and the company pulled its annual forecast on Wednesday, as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak overshadowed a strong growth in monthly phone subscribers.

The U.S. media and telecommunications giant said the pandemic reduced earnings by 5 cents per share. Advertising sales, which was severely hit due to the postponement of live sports such as March Madness, and lower wireless equipment sales led to a $600 million decline in revenue, AT&T reported.

The company said it had limited visibility for the rest of the year, but added that it had enough free cash flow to pay dividends and make debt payments.

In the first three months of the year, AT&T added 163,000 net new monthly phone subscribers, beating the average Wall Street estimate of 90,700. AT&T was able to earn more customers despite shutting down more than 40% of its retail stores.

The company said that the coronavirus pandemic had a $435 million impact on EBITDA.

AT&T lost 897,000 so-called premium TV subscribers, which includes its satellite TV provider DirecTV and a small number of U-Verse users as more consumers cut cords amid the pandemic.

WarnerMedia, which suffered the brunt of the impact from the pandemic, reported $7.4 billion in revenue, down from $8.4 billion from a year earlier.

The company reported total revenue of $42.8 billion, missing Wall Street expectations of $44.2 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Excluding items, AT&T earned 84 cents per share.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Arriana McLymore in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Kenneth Li and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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