T-Mobile gains more ground as Sprint merger nears – CNET

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere is staying relatively mum this quarter.

James Martin/CNET

Outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere is playing it low key this time. 

On Monday, the “Un-carrier” posted third-quarter results — usually a chance for Legere to jump on a conference call to crow about the company’s performance or bash its competitors. But aside from a seven-minute video Q&A segment and a quote in a press release, Legere is remaining mum. 

That’s because T-Mobile is that close to a deal to merge with Sprint, and Legere and Co. would probably like to skip out on questions that they wouldn’t be able to answer. 

“With all the rumors and speculation out there, we decided that we wanted to make sure you all saw and focused the Q3 results, and not just on the rumors and speculation that seem fill the news everyday,” Legere said in the video blog. 

T-Mobile and Sprint, and their respective parents, German carrier Deutsche Telekom and Japanese carrier SoftBank, all still expect to announce a deal, according to a person familiar with the talks. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the merger would be delayed for a few weeks. 

So for now, T-Mobile is focusing on its quarterly results, which saw the nation’s third-largest carrier add 595,000 post-paid phone subscribers, or customers who pay at the end of the month, and typically boast higher bills and credit scores. It added a total of 817,000 post-paid customers when factoring other connected devices like tablets and wearables. 

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The former Verizon guy and current Sprint guy may be joining the T-Mobile family soon. 

Sprint

The results mark the seventh quarter in which the company has led the rest of the industry in post-paid growth, a product of aggressive marketing and a continued rollout of perks. The company has continued to turn heads with freebies like its T-Mobile Tuesday giveaway program, free international data and its all-in, tax-free pricing. Its latest deal gives Netflix away to family customers on its unlimited data plan. 

The moves have benefited consumers even if they aren’t with T-Mobile. Verizon has reintroduced an unlimited data plan, and AT&T bundles HBO with its unlimited data offering. Sprint offers a year of service for free

That competitive spirit has had an impact on T-Mobile’s results, which marked a decline from a year ago. T-Mobile blamed rival promotions, a split in the release of the iPhones (the iPhone X is due to hit markets next month) and the impact from the hurricanes. 

The big question is whether things change with a T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Critics warn the industry may get less competitive, resulting in fewer perks and discounts for consumers. Integrating two national carriers may also prove to be a distraction for the combined company. Sprint itself is the product of a disastrous merger between the original Sprint and Nextel. 

T-Mobile has the benefit of a strong track record of execution. 

In total, T-Mobile added a net 1.3 million new customers in the period, its 18th straight quarter where it exceeded the 1 million mark. It also raised its 2017 forecast range for new subscriber growth to 3.3 million to 3.6 million, up from 3 million to 3.6 million. 

The company posted a third-quarter profit of $550 million, or 63 cents a share. 

Revenue rose 8 percent to $10 billion.

Analysts, on average, forecast earnings of 46 cents a share and revenue of $10.01 billion, according to Yahoo Finance

T-Mobile shares rose 1.9 percent to $61.60 in pre-market trading. 

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