Thu, Feb. 19, 8:36 AM
- "We killed it," says T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) CEO John Legere of the company's Q4 earnings that rose 19.4% and swung from a Q3 loss.
- Adjusted EBITDA of $1.8B (up 41.3%) beat expectations of $1.62B.
- Customer growth: A record year culminated in 2.1M net subscriber adds (1.3M branded postpaid net adds, 1M branded postpaid phone net adds). The company says it captured nearly 80% of industry postpaid phone growth in Q4 and nearly 100% for the full year.
- For the full year, T-Mobile added 8.3M net customers to end with 55M total. (Total branded postpaid net adds in 2014 were 4.9M -- more than 4M phone net adds and 839K mobile broadband.)
- Branded postpaid average billings per user up 5.1% to record $61.80; branded postpaid phone ARPU of $48.26.
- The company guided to 2015 EBITDA of $6.8B-7.2B vs. an expected $7.22B, and targeted 2.2M-3.2M branded postpaid net customer adds. It expects 2015 cash capex of $4.4B-$4.7B.
- Conference call at 9 a.m. ET.
- Shares are up 3.2% premarket.
- Press release
Thu, Feb. 19, 6:11 AM
Wed, Feb. 18, 6:15 PM
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) chief John Legere takes to the blog to excoriate the FCC's recent AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction as a "disaster" for consumers (even if a success for the Treasury), and to call for revised rules in the future.
- Legere complains about AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), who'll use deep pockets to "corner the market on available spectrum at nearly any cost."
- He notes: "To add insult to injury, the FCC’s rules actually allowed companies that don’t provide wireless service at all to buy up huge amounts of spectrum and sit on it for ten years!" ... a sure shot at Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), who's also taken criticism for using affiliated investment entities to garner a 25% discount on their spectrum stockpiles.
- Legere says he's calling for action to avoid "epic failure" in next year's auction of low-band spectrum -- which will be highly contested and even more crucial to wireless companies' ability to reach further into buildings.
- He wants at least half the available low-band reserved for competitors who aren't the "Twin Bells" (the FCC will restrict AT&T and Verizon, though not as much as Legere would like) and wants to ensure spectrum is put to use and not "collected and traded like financial securities."
- Sprint (NYSE:S) mainly sat out the last auction but is sitting on spectrum that others may covet.
- More FCC auction news
Wed, Feb. 18, 11:14 AM
- In more details from 13Fs: John Paulson's Paulson & Co. closed its entire stake in Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) by Dec. 31.
- Paulson had a stake of 26.7M shares ($927.6M at today's price), which made up 3.65% of the fund's portfolio.
- The fund did add nearly 320K shares to its T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) stake.
- Paulson also added to stakes in Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), boosting that stake by 18%, and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), adding 9% to that stake.
- VOD shares are down 2.1% today, and are now up just 1.6% YTD.
Tue, Feb. 10, 11:48 AM
- While Verizon (VZ +0.4%) and AT&T (T +0.6%) are still the big two competing over mobile network size/reliability, Sprint (S +1.2%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +1%) are competitive in metro areas, according to analysis firm RootMetrics.
- The company tested every mobile network by driving the equivalent of 100 U.S. coast-co-coast trips in the last half of 2014.
- Verizon won out overall and on network speed and data; AT&T came in second and won on text performance.
- Biggest problems for the sector's "other two": Reliability for T-Mobile; speed for Sprint.
- For their part: "It’s a very encouraging result for us," says Sprint network chief John Saw; "We believe the metro stuff is the most important," says T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray.
- "The good news is that our testing shows every network is getting better," says RootMetrics' Bill Moore.
Fri, Jan. 30, 1:14 PM
- Heavy volatility for Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), which has fluctuated from down 6.5% to its earlier -3.3%, following details of major bidder amounts in the FCC's record wireless spectrum auction.
- Dish reportedly bid $10B and their participation was heavily scrutinized -- especially for what it might mean, whether Dish was bidding to add spectrum or just push prices for rivals.
- The company was also tied to Verizon (NYSE:VZ), who might have an interest in Dish's existing similar spectrum assets, depending on its bidding here. The relatively lower spending by Verizon might mean hidden value in Dish's spectrum if Verizon takes an interest.
- Others: (T +0.8%); (VZ); (TMUS +0.4%)
Fri, Jan. 30, 1:06 PM| 4 Comments
Mon, Jan. 26, 1:57 AM
- Not only is Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) preparing a new cellphone service that will dial up pressure on the wireless industry’s business model, Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) is also prepping one.
- Google’s new package will hunt through cellular connections provided by Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and WiFi "hot spots," picking whichever offers the best signal to route calls, texts and data, WSJ reports.
- Meanwhile, Cablevision will start offering Freewheel next month, a WiFi-only mobile-phone service.
- Such services pose a challenge to traditional telecom carriers, including AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
- Previously: Report: Google to sell phone plans via Sprint, T-Mobile (Jan. 21 2015)
- Previously: Analysis: Cable WiFi services to go mainstream (Oct. 06 2014)
Wed, Jan. 21, 4:09 PM
- Two day after reporting on Google's (GOOG +2.2%) SpaceX investment (confirmed a day later), The Information reports Google (GOOG +2.2%) is getting ready to "sell mobile phone plans directly to customers and manage their calls and mobile data over a cellular network."
- Google won't be building its own network, but will instead operate as an MVNO leveraging Sprint (S +5.8%) and T-Mobile's (TMUS +1.9%) networks. Deals for wholesale network access are reportedly on the way. Sprint and (to a lesser extent) T-Mobile have caught a bid on the report.
- Becoming a U.S. mobile carrier with Sprint/T-Mobile's help risks upsetting AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), who still tower over the local telecom landscape. However, it also gives Google a chance to experiment with novel/low-cost service plans, perhaps with the hope that other carriers (in the U.S. and elsewhere) will follow suit. Google also might be betting Android is too well-entrenched at this point for AT&T and/or Verizon to respond too harshly.
- Last April, The Information reported Google has discussed offering mobile services in Google Fiber markets. Q4 results arrive in eight days.
- Update: The WSJ is backing up The Information's report. It adds Sprint is "hedging its bet by putting a volume trigger into the [Google] contract that would allow the deal to be renegotiated if Google’s customer base swells."
Tue, Jan. 20, 11:28 AM
- Believing T-Mobile (TMUS +1.4%) will see "an inflection to positive and rapidly growing [free cash flow] in 2015," Goldman's Brett Feldman has upgraded the Un-Carrier to Conviction Buy from Neutral, and hiked its target by $10 to $37.
- Feldman also thinks T-Mobile will provide strong 2015 EBITDA guidance, thanks to slowing expense growth and higher MetroPCS synergies. He forecasts 2015 EBITDA of $7.7B (above a $7.09B consensus), and has upped his 2015 net postpaid subscriber add estimate by 500K to 3.5M (implies further share gains).
- Meanwhile, in comments that might be aimed at U.S. politicians and regulators more than investors, Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) CEO Tim Hoettges insists T-Mobile's current approach isn't sustainable, and that a merger is the U.S. subsidiary's best long-term hope for achieving needed scale. "I was intrigued by the idea of having a combination with Sprint and being the ‘super-maverick’ in the market. I hope that the political environment will change at one point in time."
- T-Mobile and (especially) Sprint plunged last year after Sprint abandoned its merger efforts in the face of FCC/DOJ opposition. T-Mobile's recent postpaid share gains likely influenced regulatory thinking.
Sun, Jan. 18, 12:57 PM
- TechCrunch reports Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is interested in acquiring Softcard, the mobile payments platform launched by AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) in 2010 - it was previously known as Isis, before changing its name for obvious reasons. Though Softcard's owners have invested hundreds of millions in the venture, sources state Google's purchase price could be below $100M.
- Like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, Softcard relies on NFC radios to enable transactions. And like Wallet, it has struggled to get off the ground, as U.S. consumers overwhelmingly stick with card swipes. Hard data on Apple Pay usage remains limited for now.
- Softcard recently laid off 60 employees. Meanwhile, it was reported in 2013 that Google had spent $300M on Wallet-related acquisitions, with little to show for it. The adoption of EMV (chip-and-PIN) readers by U.S. retailers could give NFC solutions a boost, by making card payments a little less convenient.
- The WSJ reports Google is partnering with consulting giant PwC to bid on a $2B+ contract to update the DoD's electronic health records system. PwC says Google's tools could both improve the system's security and performance, and lower costs. A group featuring IBM, HP (NYSE:HPQ), and CSC has made a rival bid.
- Ad tech firm Marin Software (NYSE:MRIN) provides some encouraging mobile search data ahead of Google's Jan. 29 Q4 report. A Marin study found mobile accounted for 49% of Q4 U.S. search ad spend, up from 42% in Q3, and that smartphone ad click rates were 38% higher than PC rates (thanks in part to accidental clicks?). On the other hand, mobile still only accounted for 32% of conversions.
- Medium writer Backchannel provides a deep dive into Google Search's evolution in an era where users increasingly want search engines to know the precise meaning of their queries. Part 1 looks at Google's efforts to optimize for mobile (aided by its Knowledge Graph and Google Now). Part 2 looks at Google's real-world research into the information needs of users. Part 3 looks at Google's investments in A.I./deep learning to deliver far more intelligent search results and spontaneously surface useful information.
Fri, Jan. 16, 6:19 PM
- Through its existing partnership with Wal-Mart, Sprint's (NYSE:S) Virgin Mobile brand is offering new prepaid shared data plans: A 2-line, 4GB plan goes for $65/month; a 3-line, 8GB plan goes for $90/month; and a 4-line, 12GB plan goes for $115/month.
- Virgin/Wal-Mart are also selling new individual prepaid plans: $35/month for 300 minutes, unlimited text, and 2.5GB of unthrottled data, and $45/month for unlimited talk/text and 2.5GB of unthrottled data.
- Sprint is abandoning the Virgin Mobile Custom brand (offered via Wal-Mart since last August), which the carrier says led to confusion among would-be customers. However's it's keeping Custom's ItsOn platform, which allows a primary account holder to decide how much of a shared data bucket goes to a particular user, as well as buy additional data, through an app.
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), meanwhile, has rolled out its Simply Prepaid plans. $40/month gets unlimited talk/text and 1GB of 4G data (3G speeds beyond that); an extra $10 and $20 respectively yields 3GB and 5GB of 4G data.
- Both carriers may have gained prepaid share in Q4: Sprint had 410K prepaid net adds, and T-Mobile 266K branded prepaid net adds. Sprint's calendar Q4 (FQ3) report arrives on the morning of Feb. 5.
Wed, Jan. 7, 12:01 PM
- As John Legere recently predicted, AT&T (T -1.7%) has followed T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) lead in allowing users to roll over unused mobile data, but with some fine print attached: While T-Mobile is letting Simple Choice plan users roll over unused data for up to 12 months, AT&T is only letting Mobile Share Value plan users roll over for one month.
- The announcement comes on a morning where T-Mobile reported 1.28M Q4 branded postpaid subscriber adds (1.04M phone, 239K mobile broadband). AT&T, which reports on Jan. 27, had 785K postpaid net adds in Q3 (~450K from tablets and "computing devices")
- The rollover announcement follows AT&T's launch of new enterprise machine-to-machine (M2M) data services and developer tools at CES, and a deal with theft-recovery service leader LoJack to power its telematics services for cars and commercial fleets. AT&T added over 500K connected car subscriptions in Q3.
- Shares are lower as a result of trading ex-dividend.
Wed, Jan. 7, 10:34 AM
- T-Mobile (TMUS +1.6%) added 1.28M branded postpaid subscribers in Q4 - down slightly from 1.38M in Q3 but up from 869K a year ago, and evidence of further share gains fueled by the carrier's aggressive pricing. Branded postpaid phone net adds totaled 1.04M, and branded mobile broadband net adds 239K.
- 266K branded prepaid subs were added vs. 411K in Q3 and 112K a year ago. M2M sub growth totaled 152K vs. 222K in Q3 and 172K a year ago, and MVNO sub growth amounted to 434K vs. 333K in Q3 and 492K a year ago.
- For the whole of 2014, T-Mobile added 8.3M subs, including 4.9M branded postpaid and 4M branded postpaid phone subs. The branded postpaid base stood at 27.2M at year's end (25.8M phone), and the branded prepaid base at 16.3M.
- In his 2015 predictions (previous), CEO John Legere suggested T-Mobile will try to add to its momentum by targeting U.S. consumers who still don't have a smartphone (roughly 1/4 of the populace) and/or Internet access, as well as SMBs.
Dec. 31, 2014, 2:31 PM
- "AT&T (T -1.1%) will find new ways to cause their customers pain [in 2015] - especially those still on grandfathered unlimited plans," predicts T-Mobile (TMUS +0.3%) CEO John Legere, feisty as ever while making his 2015 predictions. The FTC recently sued AT&T for throttling the data speeds of unlimited plan users.
- Legere, whose company has unleashed a margin-crimping price war against over the last two years, also forecasts AT&T will launch a "knock off" version of T-Mobile's Data Stash feature, which lets users roll over unused data from monthly buckets for up to 12 months. "The fine print will be massive, and they’ll miss the first and most important step in the process – which is to stop punishing their customers with domestic overages and instead get rid of them."
- He isn't any kinder to Verizon (VZ -0.8%), predicting Big Red will "keep trying to baffle American wireless customers with BS promos, like the one they did this year telling customers they could get a free iPhone 6 (don’t forget to read the small print!), as well as misleading advertising about everything from coverage maps to device trade-ins."
- As for share-losing Sprint (S +0.6%), Legere sees them "continue throwing out campaigns, offers and promotions – anything to see if it sticks." By mid-year, he expects the carrier to "realize they can’t slash their way to growth and start to invest in their network and customer care."
- Two things Legere has kind words for (besides T-Mobile): 1) Apple Watch (NASDAQ:AAPL), which he predicts will "mark the tipping point when wearables go from niche to mainstream." 2) Phablets, which he expects will see 50% sales growth next year and thereby boost data usage.
- One positive prediction for the industry in general: Legere forecasts 2/3 of devices sold next year by carriers will be subsidy-free, up from 41% in 2014. The margin improvement that has come from moving customers from subsidies to early-upgrade and installment plans has been a silver lining for the industry during its price war.
Dec. 19, 2014, 12:33 PM
- The FTC had accused T-Mobile (TMUS +1.5%), along with its three nationwide rivals, of billing users for unauthorized charges related to mobile content/services (i.e. cramming).
- The carrier will pay at least $90M to subscribers hit with the charges. It will also pay $18M in state fines, and $4.5M to the FCC.
- AT&T has already agreed to pay $105M to settle similar charges. A $105M settlement with Sprint is on tap.
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T-Mobile US Inc provideswireless communication servicesin the postpaid, prepaid, and wholesale markets.The Company's products and services includevoice, messaging, data services,wireless devices, smartphones and other mobile communication devices.
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