T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) continued to build on its momentum as 2015 came to an end, adding 2.06 million customers to mark its eleventh straight quarter of more than 1 million net adds. The news also marks the carrier's third consecutive quarter of more than 2 million net adds.
In preliminary quarterly figures subject to revisions when full results are released next month, T-Mobile reported 917,000 postpaid phone adds during the quarter, down 11.6 percent over the same period in 2014. Total net adds were down 3.1 percent year-over-year. Branded postpaid churn was 1.46 percent, down from 1.73 percent during the year-ago period.
While some of those figures showed a decline in year-over-year subscriber growth, they still exceeded expectations, Evercore ISI analysts wrote in a research note.
"Given that 2014 was a record year for TMUS in terms of net adds (and there was no iconic phone release), we do not believe the Y/Y declines are evidence of poor performance," according to Evercore ISI. With competitor comments focused on profitability and TMUS's ongoing strength in postpaid phones, "we continue to expect TMUS to lead the industry in customer adds."
Evercore also noted that while "over the short-term there is an inverse relationship between subscriber growth and EBITDA performance" among mobile network operators, T-Mobile's fourth quarter may demonstrate a solid financial performance in addition to growing its customer base.
The news continues an extremely impressive – even disruptive -- run for T-Mobile due largely to its aggressive "un-carrier" marketing campaign. Once an afterthought among tier-one carriers, T-Mobile passed Sprint (NYSE: S) last year to become the nation's third-largest operator.
And that momentum is expected to continue: At least two analyst firms recently predicted T-Mobile's churn rate to improve year-over-year, and the carrier hopes to grow its market share as it continues to build out its LTE network in suburban and rural areas.
T-Mobile has experienced public relations problems lately, though, with news earlier this week that its Binge On program – which provides zero-rated video content from certain providers – actually slows video speeds from any source, regardless of whether they're part of Binge On. The carrier had previously denied throttling video delivery and still has yet to comment. The development could draw the attention of the FCC, which has already asked T-Mobile to discuss its policies for data services.
- see this T-Mobile press release
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