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.
Dec. 16, 2014, 2:34 PM
- A new service feature called Data Stash will allow T-Mobile (TMUS -1.7%) subs to roll over any unused data from a monthly bucket to subsequent months.
- There's no limit on how much data can be stored. New customers will also get a 10GB data reserve on top of their monthly allotments.
- The incentive comes after T-Mobile began allowing users to add tablets to their postpaid plans for free in April. Last year, it struck deals to give subscribers free 3G data in dozens of international markets.
- A promo involving relatively cheap unlimited 4G family plans was launched last week.
Dec. 12, 2014, 2:15 PM
- Less than a year after unloading its 45% Verizon Wireless stake for $130B, Vodafone (VOD -3.1%) says it will re-enter the U.S. mobile market as an MVNO leveraging T-Mobile's (TMUS -0.4%) network. A launch is expected in "late autumn 2015."
- The service will be aimed at the 400 U.S.-based multinationals Vodafone already counts as clients, as well as the 500 foreign multinational clients that "have a strong U.S. presence."
- The choice of T-Mobile as a partner will likely raise some eyebrows among Vodafone clients, given the "Un-carrier" has a much smaller corporate customer base than Verizon and AT&T. T-Mobile's penchant for aggressive pricing might have helped win Vodafone over.
Dec. 12, 2014, 6:56 AM
- SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) will soon downsize its Silicon Valley offices, Reuters reports, signaling the company won't revive efforts to buy T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS).
- The Japanese telecommunications company is also looking to rent out one of two buildings it leased at an annual cost of over $3M, which it had previously designated for T-Mobile.
- The "bulk" of its West Coast manpower is now set to be transferred elsewhere, including the dispersal of development engineers to Sprint (NYSE:S) headquarters in Kansas.
Dec. 9, 2014, 4:12 PM
- In its latest aggressive pricing maneuver, T-Mobile (TMUS -8.5%) is charging just $100/month for unlimited voice, text, and 4G data for a family of two, and $40/line for each additional user up to a limit of 10. Data tethering is capped at 5GB.
- With a family of four paying $180/month, the self-proclaimed Un-carrier asserts its plan is respectively $30/month, $100-$140/month, and $180/month cheaper than comparable AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon plans.
- The announcement comes in the wake of a Verizon Q4 warning (blamed in part on price pressure) that sparked a selloff in U.S. mobile carriers. AT&T later followed suit by stating it expects churn to be up Y/Y in Q4.
Dec. 9, 2014, 9:48 AM
- With price pressure from rivals as intense has ever, Verizon has warned it expects to see "short-term pressure" on its wireless margins and EPS, and that retail postpaid disconnects are "trending higher" both Q/Q and Y/Y.
- AT&T (T -2.8%) and Sprint (S -2.3%) aren't responding well to the news; the S&P is down 0.9%. Sprint's moves under new CEO Marcelo Claure (launched in an attempt to stem ongoing postpaid share losses) appear to be contributing to Verizon's challenges. Big Red has been gaining postpaid share relative to AT&T and Sprint, though not T-Mobile.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -5.1%) is down sharply, but shares had already sold off before the Verizon news, thanks to T-Mobile's convertible offering announcement.
Dec. 8, 2014, 5:41 PM
Dec. 8, 2014, 4:10 PM
- T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is offering 17.4M shares of mandatory convertible preferred stock featuring a liquidation preference of $50/share. Underwriters will have a 2.6M-share overallotment option.
- Proceeds will be used for "general corporate purposes, including capital investments and acquisition of additional spectrum unrelated to spectrum it may obtain in the Federal Communications Commissions pending AWS-3 spectrum auction."
- Total AWS-3 auction bids have surpassed $41B. Though Verizon, AT&T, and Dish are believed to be bidding more aggressively, T-Mobile's bill could still be significant. The carrier already raised debt in advance of the auction.
- Some of the new offering's proceeds could end up going towards 2016's 600MHz. incentive auction, which is expected to be bigger than the AWS-3 auction, and where T-Mobile is expected to spend heavily to address a relative shortage of low-band spectrum.
- T-Mobile's net debt totaled $17.3B at the end of Q3.
Dec. 2, 2014, 11:49 AM
- In a promo that starts on Friday, Sprint (S -1.2%) will offer AT&T (T -1%) and Verizon (VZ -0.7%) subs who switch to Sprint unlimited talk/text plans similar to the ones they're currently on a 50% price cut.
- One catch: Users have to trade in their existing AT&T/Verizon phones, and make an unsubsidized purchase of a Sprint phone (via leasing, installment plans, or a regular retail purchase).
- A Sprint rep "will select the service plan that most closely matches the data allowance" of a user's AT&T/Verizon plan. The carrier will cover up to $350 worth of early termination fees and installment plan balances per line.
- The offer is the latest in a series of aggressive promos and price cuts launched by new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, who has made a priority out of halting postpaid share losses. In addition to AT&T/Verizon, the promo takes aim at T-Mobile (TMUS -0.4%), which has been grabbing postpaid share (especially on the low-end) with its own aggressive offers.
- T-Mobile and Verizon's wireless service revenue respectively rose 10.6% and 4.8% in Q3, while AT&T and Sprint's fell 0.2% and 5%.
Nov. 19, 2014, 6:48 PM
- Bidding in the FCC's AWS-3 spectrum auction has reached $24.1B barely 24 hours after topping $14B. Through 15 rounds, $1.19B alone was bid on a 10x10 MHz. license for the NYC area.
- "While bids could suddenly slow down, the auction appears on pace to blow through the top end of our expected range," writes BTIG's Walter Piecyk. Whereas Piecyk initially forecast an average bid of $0.75-$1.25/MHz./POP, spending has already topped $1.50/MHz./POP.
- Deep-pocketed AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are likely the "most aggressive bidders," notes JPMorgan's Philip Cusick; he suspects T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is bidding more cautiously. New Street Research thinks AT&T and Verizon "will likely both go after a 10x10 MHz pair in all of the critical markets."
- Tim Farrar suspects DISH is bidding up prices on the assumption AT&T/Verizon will respond by upping their bids regardless of the cost. This morning, Piecyk estimated the auction had served to increase the value of Dish's existing spectrum to ~$2/MHz./POP from ~$1.50/MHz./POP, thereby making Dish worth $104/share rather than a prior estimate of $85/share. Dish rose 10% in regular trading.
- Though bidding is expected to slow down soon, it might not fully end for a few more weeks. Until then, the FCC won't disclose the names of winning bidders, or how much they're paying.
Nov. 18, 2014, 4:09 PM
- Following 14 rounds, total bids in the FCC's AWS-3 (high-band) spectrum auction have reached $14.18B. Bids have been placed for 1,303 of the 1,614 available licenses, and a $10.1B aggregate reserve price has been surpassed.
- AT&T (T -0.4%), Verizon (VZ -0.3%), T-Mobile (TMUS -0.3%), and Dish (DISH +4%) are among the companies bidding on the spectrum, which includes paired licenses (50GHz. altogether) in the 1.7GHz. and 2.1GHz. bands (good for high-density urban areas). T-Mobile raised debt ahead of the auction to help finance its efforts.
- The furious bidding pace highlights the strong interest U.S. carriers have in growing their spectrum portfolios to cope with rapid mobile data traffic growth. An even bigger auction for 600MHz. (low-band) spectrum was recently delayed until 2016; AT&T and Verizon will face purchase restrictions in that one.
Nov. 4, 2014, 12:38 PM
- William Blair's Jim Breen, reiterating an Underperform on Sprint (S -16.9%) following its disappointing Q3 numbers and EBITDA guidance cut: "Sprint reported a Sprint-platform postpaid churn rate that was its highest in the past six years ... postpaid and prepaid losses reflect intense competition, specifically related to competitors’ early- termination fee reimbursements."
- Breen expects Sprint 'will struggle to win high-end subscribers from Verizon and AT&T as their 4G LTE lead and shared data plans will likely have the effect of decreasing churn even further." He also notes improving Sprint's oft-criticized network quality will require significant capex; Sprint just slashed its 2014 capex budget by ~$1B.
- Canaccord's Greg Miller (Hold) isn't convinced Sprint's relatively positive September metrics spell a turnaround. "Preliminary reports have not consistently translated into sustainable trends that improve shareholder value over the long-term ... We look forward to additional details on yet another strategy to restore the company and make it more competitive and successful."
- Goldman (Neutral) is more encouraged by the September numbers, but also expects the costs of boosting subscriber adds to take a toll on ARPU and EBITDA. It expects postpaid phone net losses to fall to 240K in 2015 from 2.2M in 2014.
- On the CC (transcript), Sprint said it expects 2014 EBITDA to be "neutral to modestly higher" compared with 2014 levels. Jefferies notes this is 20% below consensus.
- Cowen (Outperform) still thinks a turnaround can happen. "We believe mgmt. is making the right decisions and that this should lead to outsized subs/EBITDA growth in coming quarters and consequent improvement in stock price."
- Low-end rival T-Mobile (TMUS -3.7%), which has been performing much better than Sprint in recent quarters, is also lower.
- Yesterday's earnings coverage
Oct. 28, 2014, 11:23 AM
- Though T-Mobile (TMUS +2.5%) missed Q3 revenue/EPS estimates, it delivered 1.379M branded postpaid net subscriber adds, up from 908K in Q2 and a record high.
- Full-year branded postpaid net add guidance has been hiked to 4.3M-4.7M from 3M-3.5M. The costs of adding these subscribers has led T-Mobile to forecast adjusted EBITDA will be "at the very low end" of a prior $5.6B-$5.8B guidance range. Cash capex guidance is unchanged at $4.3B-$4.6B.
- Branded postpaid phone net adds totaled 1.175M, up sharply from Q2's 579K and evidence of further share gains against Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Branded prepaid net adds rose to 411K from Q2's 102K. Wholesale net adds (MVNOS and M2M services) rose to 555K from 460K.
- Service revenue rose 10.6% Y/Y to $5.7B, and equipment revenue 6.4% to $1.47B. Branded postpaid average billings per user rose to $61.59 from $59.79 in Q2 and $59.08 a year ago. Branded postpaid churn was 1.6% vs. 1.5% in Q2 and 1.7% a year ago.
- T-Mobile ended Q3 with 25.9M branded postpaid subs, 16.1M branded prepaid subs, and 10.9M wholesale subs. Net debt totaled $17.3B, up $100M Q/Q.
- Q3 results, PR
TMUS vs. ETF Alternatives
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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