AT&T beats wireless subscriber estimates; earnings hit by $25 billion charge

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc on Wednesday reported more subscriber additions in the fourth quarter than expected, as aggressive promotions during the holiday season helped it attract more customers that were looking to upgrade their devices and internet plans.

Since selling its media assets last year, AT&T has renewed its focus on its telecoms business and ramped up competition with Verizon for subscribers.

The U.S. carrier added 656,000 postpaid phone subscribers in the latest quarter, above Factset estimates of 644,800 additions. Analysts and investors closely watch postpaid subscribers as those customers pay a recurring monthly bill, making them valuable to the carriers.

AT&T posted a loss from continuing operations of $23.1 billion, or $3.20 per share, in the quarter, after taking a $25 billion impairment charge primarily due to rising interest rates and asset impairments.

Excluding items, the company earned 61 cents per share. Analysts on average expected a profit of 57 cents, according to Refinitiv data. It is not immediately clear if the figures are comparable.

The carrier expects profit for the year in the range of $2.35 and $2.45 per share, compared with analysts’ estimates of $2.56 per share.

Wireless service revenue growth is expected to be 4% or higher, AT&T said.

Larger rival Verizon forecast annual profit below expectations on Tuesday, and said it was expecting wireless service revenue to grow between 2.5% and 4.5% in 2023.

(Reporting by Samrhitha Arunasalam and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)