Despite rampant speculation, T-Mobile US was in no mood to discuss negotiations over a merger with rival Sprint as it announced its Q3 earnings.
The operator eschewed the usual call with investors as it unveiled the results, which it released at short notice today (23 October), in favour of a prepared video by CEO John Legere.
It is a strategy which belies the typically vivacious approach of the CEO, but one which seems to be catching: shortly after T-Mobile released its figures, Sprint announced it will release its fiscal Q2 earnings (calendar Q3) on 25 October and is also declining to hold a live call with investors.
There appears little doubt T-Mobile and Sprint are in the midst of negotiating a merger, but the timing of an announcement on the outcome of those talks is in doubt. While the duo were originally tipped to reveal the deal in their respective earnings calls, Bloomberg reported late last week the companies had postponed any revelation until November.
Indeed, at the time, there remained doubt over when the companies would announce their earnings, let alone the mooted merger.
Legere said the company decided to discuss the results in a video to ensure “you all saw and focused on” the figures rather than “rumours and speculation”.
The CEO highlighted Q3 service revenue of $7.6 billion, the “highest in T-Mobile history”; EBITDA of $2.8 billion, “our best Q3 ever”; and a 60 per cent year-on-year bump in free cash flow to $921 million: “And we’re hitting these records while continuing to invest in the network, with capex up 24 per cent year-over-year.”
Net additions during the quarter totalled 1.3 million, a figure including 817,000 post paid subscribers and 226,000 prepaid. The latter was Legere’s only reference to a merger, as he explained most of the prepaid growth is “fuelled by MetroPCS,” the acquisition of which in 2013 highlights the company’s ability to successfully handle mergers, he argued.
The CEO also talked up the speed of T-Mobile’s LTE network, shrugging off recent criticism its rhetoric on the matter is based on flawed studies by OpenSignal and Ookla: “Our network continues to get even faster, and once again was the fastest LTE network in the country”, he commented.
Legere did not discuss the potential financial impact of recent natural disasters, but praised the work of CTO Neville Ray and his team to restore services in Puerto Rico.
Net income of $550 million in the recent period was up from $366 million in the comparable 2016 quarter: total revenue increased from $9.3 billion to $10 billion. In the January to September period net income grew from $1.07 billion in 2016 to $1.83 billion; revenue from $27.3 billion to $29.8 billion.
T-Mobile raised its guidance for the year across several metrics: it expects post paid net additions to hit between 3.3 million and 3.6 million (up from 3 million to 3.6 million previously predicted), and adjusted EBITDA in the range of $10.8 billion and $11 billion ($10.5 billion to $10.9 billion previously).Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back