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AT&T Beats Earnings Forecast as HBO Max, Wireless Additions Impress

AT&T adds nearly 600,000 wireless subscribers, along with 2.7 million new additions to its HBO Max streaming service, helping boost its bottom line past Wall Street forecasts.

AT&T Inc  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday as its HBO Max streaming service added more subscribers and wireless additions more than doubled Wall Street forecasts. 

AT&T said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at 86 cents per share, up 2.4% from the same period last year and 8 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, the company said, rose 2.7% to $43.9 billion, a figure that beat analysts' estimates of a $42.4 billion tally. 

AT&T said it added 2.7 million U.S. subscribers to its HBO Max streaming service, taking the quarter-end total to 44.2 million -- and 64 million worldwide -- as it continues to challenge its larger rival Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix Inc. Report for new additions.

“We continued to excel in growing customer relationships in our market focus areas of mobility, fiber and HBO Max,” said CEO John Stankey. “We had another strong quarter of postpaid phone net adds, higher gross adds, lower churn and good growth in Mobility EBITDA. We also continue to increase penetration in markets where we offer fiber broadband and we’re moving quickly to deploy more fiber."

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"HBO Max continued to deliver strong subscriber and revenue growth in advance of our international and AVOD launches planned for June,” he added.  

AT&T shares were marked 3.7% higher in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $31.25 each, a move that bumps the stock's year-to-date gain to around 9%. 

AT&T said it added 595,000 net wireless phone subscribers over the first three months of the year, more than double the FactSet consensus of around 270,000.

Looking into the 2021 financial year, AT&T said its sees consolidated revenue growth of around 1% from last year, with adjusted earnings largest stable. Gross capital investment will likely come in around $22 billion, AT&T said, with capex of around $17 billion.