TV Stocks Tumble After AT&T Cord-Cutting Disclosure

AT&T filing: Natural disasters hitting earnings; DirecTV Now at 300K adds

The prepaid subscriber base will be adjusted by an increase of 543,000 connections with a corresponding decline in the connected device subscriber base to reflect subscriber activity prior to the third quarter.

A day after DirecTV parent AT&T said it would lose subscribers because people are ditching their satellite and cable television services - a phenomenon known as cord-cutting - shares of companies heavily invested in the TV industry tumbled.

AT&T attributed the lower total video adds to more intense competition in the traditional pay-TV markets and OTT services, severe storms that hit the country, and tighter credit standards.

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"We expect further reductions in the fourth quarter as we continue to assess damage to our network and fully restore service", the company said.

Even though the pre-released linear video subscriber losses were higher than expected and storm impact was a short-term negative, AT&T is clearly "not the only one being impacted by these trends in Q3", Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in an investor note. "It is reasonable to expect a weak quarter for the whole pay-TV industry".

The analyst also noted that the steep decline in traditional subs means that it is "all but unthinkable" that AT&T will make an effort to acquire DirecTV's satellite TV rival Dish Network.

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Moffet also suggested that "it is becoming increasingly clear that the wheels are falling off of satellite TV", anticipating a tough Q3 from Dish Network's satellite TV business as well, despite the continued growth of the company's own OTT platform SlingTV.

AT&T warned that the drop in traditional video subs will hurt its revenues and margins. The carrier still reiterated its full-year 2017 guidance for mid-single digit adjusted earnings growth, adjusted consolidated operating margin expansion, capex of about United States dollars 22 billion, and free cash flow at the low end of the USD 18 billion range.

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