* Q1 adj EPS $0.08 vs est $0.09: Reuters Estimates
* Q1 EBITDA up 12 percent
* ARPU falls 5 pct, churn rises
* Reaffirms subscriber forecast for the year (Adds details, CFO and analyst comments, updates share movement)
By S. John Tilak
BANGALORE, May 7 (Reuters) - Low-cost wireless carrier MetroPCS Communications Inc PCS.N reported a higher quarterly profit, boosted by strong growth in its new markets such as New York and Boston.
However, the company’s shares, which had gained 19 percent so far this year, slumped as much as 10 percent.
The sell-off was due to profit-taking and not because of any concerns over the results, Soleil/Nelson Alpha Research analyst Michael Nelson said, noting that the stock had gained 5 percent over the last six trading days.
For the first quarter, the company reported a 12 percent rise in consolidated adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to $199 million.
The company, which competes with Leap Wireless International Inc LEAP.O and Sprint-Nextel (S.N) unit Boost Mobile, said it added 684,000 net subscribers in the quarter, the highest quarterly net additions in its history.
“It was the first quarter in a long time there were no physical wrinkles,” said Nelson, who termed the results as “very strong across the board.”
People were “gravitating” towards its service in part due to concerns about the weak economy, Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter said.
“They’re wanting to save money. They’re wanting to have predictability. They’re wanting to cut the cord,” Carter said in an interview with Reuters.
First-quarter average revenue per user fell to $40.40 from $42.51 a year earlier. Churn, a measure of customer attrition, rose to 5 percent from 4 percent in the prior-year quarter.
Net income was $44 million, or 12 cents a share, up from $39.5 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier. [ID:nWNAB5121]
According to Reuters Estimates, the company, however, earned 8 cents a share, excluding items, missing analysts’ consensus estimate of 9 cents.
For 2009, MetroPCS said it continues to expect net subscriber additions of 1.4 million to 1.7 million on a consolidated basis.
MetroPCS has been rapidly expanding into new markets in the east coast, pitting itself against larger carriers. It entered New York and Boston in February and is already present in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
“They’ve done phenomenally well in New York and Boston,” analyst Nelson said. “They came out of the gate extremely strong.”
The company added 249,000 net subscribers in the north east.
MetroPCS expects to capture 4 percent to 5 percent market share in New York and Boston in the first year of launch, Carter said.
On Wednesday, the company launched its service in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Shares of the company fell $1.58 to $16.86 in afternoon trade Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched a low of $16.61 earlier. (Editing by Deepak Kannan)