T-Mobile US Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, reported third-quarter sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates as its cheaper service plans and phone-upgrade strategy attracted customers.
Sales rose to $6.69 billion, an increase of 8.7 percent when adjusted to account for T-Mobile’s merger with MetroPCS Communications Inc., according to a statement today from the Bellevue, Washington-based company. Analysts projected $6.58 billion, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
T-Mobile, which merged with MetroPCS six months ago, added 648,000 new monthly subscribers, topping the 401,000 average estimate and gaining for a second straight quarter. T-Mobile has benefited from offers such as zero-down financing on phones and a $10-a-month service that lets customers upgrade their devices more often -- a program that rivals such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. have now adopted.
“It’s surprising how quickly the new offers took hold with consumers,” said Todd Rethemeier, an analyst at Hudson Square Research in New York. “The true test will be a few quarters out, when we’ll see if they are able to hang on to these new customers.”
T-Mobile was little changed in New York trading, closing at $28.12. The shares have climbed 70 percent since May 1, following the MetroPCS merger. Deutsche Telekom also was little changed today, closing at 11.72 euros in Frankfurt.
The company now expects to add 1.6 million to 1.8 million subscribers this year, up from a prior forecast of 1 million to 1.2 million.
T-Mobile, which is 74 percent owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, also was helped by the addition of Apple Inc.’s iPhones in April. The company sold 5.6 million smartphones -- 88 percent of total phone sales in the quarter. Smartphone owners now represent 78 percent of T-Mobile’s customers.
The net loss was $36 million, following a second-quarter net loss of $16 million. The average phone bill for monthly subscribers shrank about 3 percent to $52.20 from the second quarter as more customers opted for cheaper plans. Analysts had projected $52.86, according to a survey of seven estimates by Bloomberg.
The company reaffirmed its 2013 forecast for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, including MetroPCS results. The company expects $5.2 billion to $5.4 billion. It also reiterated that capital spending will total between $4.2 billion to $4.4 billion.