UPDATE 2-AT&T gets 5G boost to quarterly postpaid phone subscribers
(Adds detail from results, share price)
Jan 27 (Reuters) - AT&T Inc added more postpaid phone subscribers than expected during the fourth quarter it said on Wednesday, helped by a rise in demand for 5G services as coronavirus curbs kept people working from home.
The U.S. company reported a net loss of $13.88 billion, or $1.95 per share in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, prompting a 2.5% fall in its shares to $29.00 in trading before the bell.
Excluding asset impairment, benefits and merger related costs, AT&T reported a profit of 75 cents per share, surpassing analyst estimates of 73 cents, according to Refinitiv data.
The 5G iPhone launch, coupled with offerings such as free subscriptions to its HBO Max streaming service, helped AT&T draw in more customers in the quarter.
AT&T said it added 800,000 net new postpaid phone subscribers during the quarter. Analysts had expected it to add 475,300 customers, according to research firm FactSet.
WarnerMedia revenue was $8.6 billion, down from $9.5 billion in the year-ago quarter as the business struggled due to closed movie theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AT&T reported 41.5 million U.S. subscribers for both its premium TV channel HBO and streaming service HBO Max in the fourth quarter, up from 38 million the previous quarter.
Total operating revenue was $45.69 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $44.56 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Sheila Dang and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Alexander Smith)
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