U.S. Cellular appoints new CEO, posts weaker subscriber growth

U.S. Cellular named Mary Dillion, a former McDonald's executive, to replace outgoing chief John "Jack" Rooney, the carrier's parent company, Telephone & Data Systems said. The carrier also reported its first quarter earnings, posting weaker profits and subscriber growth.

U.S. Cellular named Mary Dillion CeODillon was formerly the global chief marketing officer and executive vice president at McDonald's, and was responsible for the chain's worldwide marketing efforts and global brand strategy. She also served as the president of the Quaker Foods division of PepsiCo. She will take over as CEO June 1.

TDS CEO LeRoy Carlson said Dillon, despite not having a wireless industry background, has strong consumer marketing and operational experience. "She has the strategic focus to leverage the strengths of U.S. Cellular's customer-focused Dynamic Organization, drive customer loyalty, and improve profitability and shareholder value," he said in a statement.

For the quarter, TDS reported a profit of $49.1 million, down from $74.5 million in the year-ago period. U.S. Cellular, which operates in 26 states and is the nation's No. 6 carrier in terms of subscribers, posted a profit of $48.2 million, down from $84.5 million a year earlier.

Here's a breakdown of U.S. Cellular's key quarterly metrics:

Subscribers: U.S. Cellular had 6,000 net subscriber additions in the quarter, substantially weaker than the 47,000 it had in the year-ago quarter. However, the carrier managed to reverse its previous two quarters of subscriber losses. The company ended the period with 6.14 million total subscribers.

Revenue: Total revenue was down slightly to $1.02 billion, down 2.9 percent from $1.05 billion in the year-ago quarter. Service revenues declined to $965.1 million, down from $981.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Data revenue spiked 28 percent, coming in at $201.3 million, representing 21 percent of total service revenues.

Churn: Postpaid churn was 1.4 percent, slightly improved from 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 and 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

ARPU: Retail service average revenue per unit increased to $46.99 from $46.87 in the year-ago quarter. 

Android: After previously hinting that it will launch the Android-powered HTC Desire in July, the company also said it will launch the Android-powered Samsung Acclaim in July. The Acclaim has a full Qwerty keyboard, Android 2.1. and a 3.2-inch HVGA screen. The company did not release any other details on the gadget.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this FierceWireless Q1 earnings page
- see this earnings release
- see this release
- see this MobileCrunch post

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