November 5, 2009 / 11:36 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 2-Leap Wireless cuts 2009 subscriber adds view

* Cuts subscriber additions forecast for 2009

* Q3 loss/shr widens to $0.85 from $0.72 yr ago

* Q3 rev $599.5 mln vs est $620.2 mln

* Q3 net additions down, ARPU down (Adds analyst comments, details)

By Mansi Dutta

BANGALORE, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Leap Wireless Inc LEAP.O posted a wider quarterly loss as increased competition hurt subscriber growth, and said it would add fewer customers than it earlier expected in 2009.

Leap now expects to add 1.1 million to 1.3 million net subscribers in 2009, down from its earlier view of 1.5 million.

Their average revenue per user (ARPU) — the revenue it gets for each subscriber — will see additional pressure going forward if Leap is to remain competitive, analyst Michael Nelson at Soleil - Nelson Alpha Research said.

Earlier in the day, rival MetroPCS Communications Inc PCS.N also warned that holiday season promotions could hurt ARPU, sending its shares plunging to an all-time low. [ID:nBNG63203]

Shares of Leap, which also competes with Sprint-Nextel (S.N) unit Boost Mobile, also fell 7 percent in sympathy and closed at $13.03 in regular trade Thursday on Nasdaq. They were mostly unchanged in trading after the bell.

Leap added about 116,000 customers in the third quarter, down both year-over-year as well as sequentially.

The quarter shows substantial loss of customers in existing markets and a slowdown in its expansion markets, Nelson said.

The results were disappointing and indicate challenges ahead to generate significant customer additions, he added.

ARPU fell 8 percent year-over-year to $39.6, while churn — a measure of customer attrition — rose 5.4 percent from 4.2 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The competitive and economic environment contributed to the year-over-year increase in churn in our existing markets which affected net customer additions, the company said in a statement.

Leap’s third-quarter net loss widened to $65.4 million, or 85 cents a share, from $47.3 million, or 72 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $599.5 million. [ID:nWNAB1465]

Analysts were expecting a loss of 52 cents a share, on revenue of $620.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Mansi Dutta in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair, Savio D’Souza)

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