T-Mobile Exceeds its Forecast for 2015 Subscriber Growth

  • Carrier adds 4.5 million customers; total now 63 million
  • Free music streaming, price cuts on plans wooing customers

T-Mobile US Inc. exceeded its own expectations for subscriber growth in 2015 after luring customers away from bigger rivals with giveaway promotions like free music streaming and price cuts on service plans.

Monthly subscribers totaled 4.5 million for the year, surpassing an October forecast of 3.8 million to 4.2 million, Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile said in a statement Wednesday announcing preliminary results. The nation’s third-largest carrier gained 2.1 million total customers in the fourth quarter, 1.3 million of which were post-paid monthly subscribers who tend to spend more on new devices and data service. That beats a 1.04 million estimate by Wells Fargo & Co. analyst Jennifer Fritzsche.

The carrier, led by self-styled rebel and Chief Executive Officer John Legere, bills itself as the “un-carrier” and uses low-cost plans along with phone leasing and rollover data allotments to draw customers from larger rivals Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. Its ability to find subscriber growth in a saturated market has also wooed investors, pushing the stock up 45 percent in 2015 and exceeding its peers and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The shares declined less than 1 percent to $40.05 at the close Wednesday in New York amid a broader selloff of stocks.

T-Mobile has attracted more than 1 million new monthly customers in each of the past six quarters. With its fourth-quarter subscriber additions, T-Mobile now has more than 63 million U.S. customers. To be sure, the low prices and data giveaways have put pressure on the bottom line: the company missed analysts’ profit estimates in the third quarter. 

T-Mobile executives are scheduled to speak at the Citi Internet, Media and Telecommunications conference in Las Vegas at 2 p.m. New York time today.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the statement date in second paragraph.)

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