AT&T raises revenue forecast as HBO Max adds customers

AT&T raised its full-year financial forecast as the telecom giant added more phone customers and HBO Max subscribers than previously expected.

AT&T has made strides during the pandemic, adding more wireless and internet customers as it unwound its media and entertainment unit, WarnerMedia, in order to focus on its core phone and internet businesses.

In May, AT&T inked a $43 billion deal to spin off WarnerMedia, which includes streaming service HBO Max, movie studio Warner Bros. and news network CNN, to Discovery, owner of channels like HGTV, TLC and The Food Network.

Ahead of closing that deal, AT&T said HBO Max added 2.8 million US subscribers, thanks to exclusive flicks like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and “Mortal Kombat,” as well as the return of live sports and televised events as the pandemic eased up.

This image shows Anthony Ramos, foreground left, and Melissa Barrera in a scene from "In the Heights."
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights” gave HBO Max a subscriber boost.

The company said it expects the streaming service to garner between 70 million and 73 million at the end of the year, up from between 67 million and 70 million.

Meanwhile, AT&T said it added 246,000 new internet subscribers during the quarter, up from 225,000 in the year-ago period, as CEO John Stankey made it a priority to serve more homes with high-speed internet through fiber optic cables.

In the second quarter, AT&T’s total net income rose to $1.5 billion, or 21 cents a share from year-ago income of $1.2 billion or 17 cents a share. Excluding items, the firm logged EPS of 89 cents, 10 cents about Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue rose nearly 8 percent to $44 billion, besting estimates of $42.6 billion.

Tony Goncalves, Chief Executive Officer of Otter Media, speaks onstage at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019 in Burbank, California.
AT&T spun off HBO Max-parent WarnerMedia to Discovery, to focus on its core phone and internet business.
Getty Images for WarnerMedia

“For the fourth consecutive quarter, we saw good subscriber growth across wireless,
fiber and HBO Max,” said Stankey, who upped AT&T’s 2021 revenue growth 2 percent to 3 percent range from 1 percent.

Shares of AT&T rose over 1 percent in pre-market trading but flattened out by the late morning.

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