With earnings coming around, analysts are once again looking into their crystal balls to fire off predictions. So far, it looks like the winner will remain the same as in previous quarters: T-Mobile.
According to Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche, T-Mobile is expected to pull in some 600,000 postpaid phone net additions and service revenue of $7.54 billion.
Sprint and Verizon are expected to duke it out for second place in net phone adds, with Fritzsche predicting 60,000 and 75,000 postpaid phone adds, respectively. AT&T will bring up the rear on that front, with anticipated postpaid phone losses of 275,000, Fritzsche said.
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) is also forecasting a win for T-Mobile. The firm said its data indicates “T-Mobile had the best quarter, combining retention of existing customers, gains of new customers from other carriers, and first-time customers.”
According to CIRP, T-Mobile was able to grow its share of phone activations by 28 percent in the quarter, and achieved a 38 percent gain from other carriers (with losses of 15 percent to other carriers). The firm estimates T-Mobile came away from the quarter with 2 million new customers, while Sprint walked away with half that number. AT&T and Verizon appear to have lost a “small number” of mobile phone subs, the firm adds.
“T-Mobile had the highest loyalty rate in the quarter, followed by Verizon,” CIRP Partner and Co-Founder Josh Lowitz commented. “T-Mobile also had the highest rate of customers gained from other carriers, followed by Sprint. And, T-Mobile had the highest rate of first-time customers, relative to its eligible customers at the start of the quarter. Sprint’s high gain rate was offset by a lower loyalty rate. Verizon’s relatively high loyalty rate was offset by smaller gains from other carriers, and AT&T was toward the bottom in both measures, leading to a similar end-of-period percentage losses as Verizon.”
Though customer trade-offs between the Tier-1 carriers continued, CIRP noted much of their growth came at the expense of regional and non-affiliated prepaid carriers.
While Fritzsche said foundational data points like growth in phone net adds and revenue still matter, she noted investors these days have their eye on strategic news more than anything. During AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile’s earnings calls, Fritzsche said to expect to hear much more about merger and acquisition activity in addition to the regular queries around CapEx and infrastructure plans, spectrum, and other financials.