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UPDATE 1-MetroPCS profit beats estimates on 4G demand, lower costs
* Third-quarter adjusted earnings $0.38/share vs est $0.26/share
* Third-quarter revenue $1.26 bln vs est $1.25 bln
Oct 30 (Reuters) - Mobile phone service provider MetroPCS Communications Inc posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by a rise in demand for its 4G LTE services and lower costs.
The company said it had more than 1 million 4G LTE subscribers at the end of the quarter, representing about 12 percent of its subscribers. It had more than 700,000 4G LTE subscribers at the end of the second quarter.
MetroPCS has followed larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc, introducing new service plans targeting heavy data users. It announced a promotional $55 4G LTE service plan in August that offers unlimited talk, text and data.
Operating costs fell 6 percent in the third quarter, helped by a 23 percent decline in equipment costs to $266 million.
MetroPCS, which said earlier this month that it would merge with Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile USA, had net subscriber losses of 312,291 in the third quarter.
Three analysts contacted by Reuters were expecting net subscriber losses ranging from 100,000 to 234,000.
Churn, or customer defection rate, fell by 80 basis points to 3.7 percent.
Net income more than doubled to $193 million, or 52 cents per share, in the third quarter, from $69 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items including a settlement gain of $53 million, the company earned 38 cents per share.
Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.26 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 26 cents per share on revenue of $1.25 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Deutsche Telekom is slated to take a 74 percent stake in the merged company after MetroPCS buys T-Mobile USA.
The deal, which is awaiting approval from MetroPCS shareholders and regulators, is expected to close in the first half of 2013. The combined company, which will retain the T-Mobile name, will have 42.5 million subscribers.
The merger provides MetroPCS customers with a broader network coverage and deeper spectrum as well as access to a broad array of handsets and services, Chief Executive Roger Linquist said in a statement.
MetroPCS shares, which rose to their highest in over a year after news of the merger on Oct.2, have fallen 22 percent since.
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