April 28, 2015 / 12:07 PM / 3 years ago

T-Mobile adds more customers in first quarter, stock jumps

(Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.N reported first quarter results that slightly beat expectations as investments to increase subscribers led to an addition of 1.8 million net customers and users defected to other networks at a lower rate.

A T-Mobile store sign is seen in Broomfield, Colorado February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

T-mobile shares were up 2.2 percent in afternoon trade at $34.81 on the New York Stock Exchange, soaring over 29 percent year to date.

The fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States has turned around years of subscriber losses with aggressive deals, savvy marketing and well-publicized wireless plans in recent quarters.

The company, which bills itself as the “Uncarrier,” has launched a series of wireless plans over the last two years, including offering to pay the early termination fees for customers switching from other carriers from its own pocket and letting users roll over unused wireless data each month.

While these initiatives have led to customer gains, they have pressured margins. The company reported a first-quarter loss of 9 cents per share, versus a loss of 19 cents a year earlier, narrowly beating analysts’ expectations of a loss of 10 cents per share.

“We expect to be solidly earnings per share positive for every remaining quarter during 2015 and as well as for the full year,” Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter said in an interview.

The company invested in capturing customer growth in the first quarter “to benefit a payback” in the rest of the year, Carter said.

Among the big four U.S. wireless companies including Verizon Communications (VZ.N), AT&T Inc (T.N) and Sprint Corp (S.N), T-Mobile now has a 16.5 percent market share, up from 11.5 percent two years ago, Chief Executive John Legere said on an earnings call.

There is “long room to grow,” Legere said.

In the latest quarter, it added 1.1 million postpaid customers who pay for service after use. It said postpaid churn, the rate at which users switch to other networks, was at a record low of 1.3 percent, down from 1.7 percent in the previous quarter.

While AT&T and Verizon said they lost postpaid phone users in the first quarter, T-Mobile said it added 991,000 postpaid users.

For 2015, the company said it expects to add 3 million to 3.5 million postpaid users, up from its previous guidance of 2.2 million to 3.2 million.

T-Mobile revenue rose 13.1 percent to $7.8 billion. This beat analysts’ estimates of $7.7 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Malathi Nayak in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman

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