June 9, 2023

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AT&T posts second quarter earnings as coronavirus impact continues

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AT&T posted its second-quarter earnings on Thursday.


Angela Lang/CNET

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As another quarter of the coronavirus pandemic continued to hang over the economy, AT&T continues to try and ride out the storm. 

In its second-quarter earnings released on Thursday morning, the telecom giant said it had revenues of $41 billion, which is roughly on par with estimates of $41.02 billion according to analysts polled by Yahoo Finance. Earnings per share came in at $0.83, beating analyst expectations of $0.79. 

On the mobile front, the carrier said it had a net loss of 151,000 postpaid mobile phone users though the numbers are a bit more complicated due to the coronavirus. 

AT&T says that 338,000 of the phones it lost were part of the Federal Communication Commission’s Keeping America Connected program, a coronavirus related initiative designed to protect those who may not be able to pay their bills due to the pandemic from losing service or being charged late fees. 

The program ran from March 13 through June 30, with the users still connected to AT&T’s network. Although they are viewed as disconnected right now because they didn’t pay their bills, the company says that once it adds those subscribers back it “would have had 190,000 postpaid phone net adds.” 

Postpaid users, or those who pay their phone bills at the end of the month, are valued more highly by the investment community as a key metric for success. 

When it comes to traditional TV AT&T’s struggles continued. While the company says that the addition of the streaming AT&T TV service helped offset losses, the video group continued to lose customers. 

The group, which includes DirecTV,  posted a loss of 886,000 subscribers in the quarter with 91,000 attributed to Keeping America Connected programs. 

At the end of the quarter, the company had 17.7 million “premium TV” subscribers. 

The quarter was a busy one for AT&T. 

In addition to dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on its businesses, including the continued closing of US theaters for its Warner Bros. division, the past three months also saw the carrier launch its HBO Max streaming service and continue to expand its 5G wireless network. 

The company also saw the transition of John Stankey into the CEO spot, taking over for Randall Stephenson who announced his retirement in April after 13 years as AT&T’s chairman and CEO. 

Although he stepped down as CEO on July 1, Stephenson, 60, will remain executive chairman of AT&T’s board until January 2021.

Stankey is expected to provide an update on the HBO Max launch during the company’s earnings call Thursday morning.  

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