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T-Mobile Adds 2.3 Million Customers, but Revenue and Earnings Trail Expectations

The carrier also turned a profit, but not as much as many analysts were expecting.

Asa Mathat

T-Mobile on Tuesday reported that it gained 2.3 million customers in the third quarter and turned a profit, but its revenue of $7.8 billion trailed some analysts’ expectations.

The company said it earned $138 million in net income, or 15 cents per share, on revenue of $7.8 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 30 cents per share, according to Yahoo Finance, while revenue was seen topping $8.2 billion, according to most analysts.

“Our momentum is strong and our incredible customer growth is translating directly into solid financial growth, which makes it crystal clear that putting customers first is just good business,” CEO John Legere said in a statement.

The results show that T-Mobile continues to gain customers far faster than its rivals, although doing so sometimes comes at a near-term cost. T-Mobile has been more aggressive than either AT&T or Verizon both in terms of monthly service pricing as well as promotions on new devices. Sprint has also joined the fray in recent quarters, fueling additional price pressure in the industry.

With its release on Tuesday, T-Mobile hiked its expectations for the number of customers it expects to add this year, saying it now expects to add between 3.8 million and 4.2 million postpaid customers, up from the previous guidance range of 3.4 million to 3.9 million. Postpaid customers, those who pay at the end of each month, typically spend more and are more lucrative than prepaid customers.

The company said back in September that it had already added more customers than for all of the prior quarter, itself a strong quarter with 2.1 million additions.

It added that its prepaid business had been even stronger, with triple the number of new customers as it had seen in the prior quarter.

AT&T added more than two million customers as well, though its gains came mostly from cars and connected devices as well as its Cricket prepaid business, rather than from core smartphone additions. Verizon also added customers, gaining 1.3 million in the quarter.

However, none of those companies came close to T-Mobile when it comes to postpaid phone customers, with Verizon gaining several hundred thousand such customers and AT&T losing several hundred thousand. T-Mobile added 1.1 million such customers in the quarter.

Sprint, which last quarter fell behind T-Mobile in number of total subscribers, reports results next week.

Among the other figures T-Mobile announced Tuesday, the company said its LTE network now covers more than 300 million people — the goal that T-Mobile had said it hoped to reach by the end of the year. It plans to continue expanding coverage in the fourth quarter.

T-Mobile did see a dip in the average monthly revenue it gets for each of those postpaid phone customers. Average monthly revenue per user was $47.99, down from $48.19 in the prior quarter and $49.84 from a year earlier. The company attributed the year-over-year decrease, in part, to its aggressive promotions targeting those with multiple lines.

The company said it sold or leased 8.9 million devices in the third quarter, 8.1 million of which were smartphones.

T-Mobile also said it expects to remain profitable for the fourth quarter.

Shares of T-Mobile were off slightly in pre-market trading, changing hands recently at $40.60, down 78 cents, or more than 1 percent.

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