AT&T Warns Investors of Heavy Q3 DirecTV Subscriber Losses

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AT&T reports its third-quarter earnings on October 24.

AT&T, which is getting set to report third-quarter earnings on October 24, warned Wall Street its results took a significant hit from hurricanes and the quake in Mexico.

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.

As MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett observed, the net loss means DirecTV is losing about 390,000 traditional subscribers - customers that had been paying at a higher rate than the low-priced DirecTV Now service.

AT&T will come out of Q3 with a loss of 90,000 total video subs likely driven by heightened competition in traditional pay TV markets and over-the-top services, but the company also pointed some of the blame to "hurricanes and stricter credit standards".

Rising prices for traditional TV bundles and those growing digital options are increasingly driving customers online and away from traditional TV.

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.

The analyst also pointed out that the current situation "makes an AT&T acquisition of Dish Network all but unthinkable".

The company confirmed prior full-year targets of mid-single digit adjusted earnings growth, adjusted consolidated operating margin expansion, roughly $22 billion in capital expenditures, and free cash flow in the low $18 billion range.

AT&T said in its filing that the decline of traditional video subscribers will negatively impact its entertainment group revenue and margins.