July 26, 2017 / 7:55 PM / in 5 months

AT&T shares surge more than 4 percent, low churn helps

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc T.N shares jumped more than 4 percent on Wednesday, notching their biggest one-day percentage gain since March 2009, a day after the carrier said its bundled products had helped slow losses of its most lucrative wireless customers.

The AT&T logo is seen on a store in Golden, Colorado United States July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Churn among phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill was 0.79 percent in the quarter, the lowest in the company’s history, AT&T said its second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday.

AT&T said it lost 89,000 U.S. phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill in the quarter, its most lucrative customers. Analysts had expected a far bigger loss of 256,000.

The company’s better-than-expected subscriber metrics and margin performance alleviated some concerns that hang over the stock, Barclays analyst Amir Rozwadowski wrote in a note on Wednesday.

“In Wireless, it now seems clear that we will see record low churn for the industry this quarter, with consumers likely waiting for the new iPhone before switching and upgrading,” wrote New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin on Wednesday.

The second-largest U.S. wireless carrier competes for customers with Verizon Communications VZ.N and smaller rivals Sprint Corp S.N and T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.O.

It bought Time Warner Inc TWX.N for $85.4 billion to bundle mobile service with entertainment. AT&T expects that deal to close by year-end.

AT&T announced in April it was offering its unlimited wireless plan with its streaming service DirecTV Now for an additional $10 a month.

Product bundles will help win new subscribers and keep existing ones, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on a post-earnings conference call with analysts.

AT&T reported second-quarter earnings of 79 cents per share, excluding certain items, topping analysts’ average estimate of 73 cents per share.

Longer term, the Dallas-based company’s share appreciation will depend on performance after its acquisition of Time Warner, Barclays said.

Shares of AT&T were last up more than 4 percent at $37.87 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Anna Driver and Meredith Mazzilli

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