U.S. Cellular adds 44K postpaid smartphone users in Q3, shares rise

Shares of U.S. Cellular rose after the company posted 44,000 postpaid smartphone net additions in its latest quarter.

The Chicago-based network operator saw 35,000 overall net subscriber additions during the period, up from a net loss of 6,000 customers during the same period last year and the 23,000 net gains it posted during the previous quarter. It lost 15,000 net feature-phone users but gained 6,000 net connected devices.

U.S. Cellular also saw 31,000 net prepaid customer additions, up significantly from the 3,000 it posted during the prior quarter. Postpaid ARPU came in at $43.41, down markedly from $47.08 last year, and prepaid ARPU dipped to $33.12 this year from $34.39 last year.

Postpaid churn was 1.16%, while prepaid churn dipped to 4.75%.

The company reported a quarterly loss of $299 million, though, after posting net income of $17 million during the prior year. Revenue came in at $963 million, and U.S. Cellular said it expects revenue for the year in the range of $3.85 billion to $3.95 billion.

CEO Kenneth Meyers attributed the subscriber gains to aggressive promotions and adoption of the Total Plans the company rolled out in February, which include an unlimited offering.

“I am quite pleased with the operating results for the quarter as we continued to build on the momentum of the previous quarter, growing subscribers and increasing customer loyalty while tightly managing costs,” Meyers said in a press release. “Overall, we are competing effectively in the marketplace…. We believe we have found a good balance of promotional offers to get new customers into our stores, and we treat all of our customers exceptionally well with our customer-focused service orientation.”

Shares of U.S. Cellular jumped more than 3.5% this morning following the earnings release.

U.S. Cellular completed its first commercial rollout of VoLTE earlier this year, bringing the service to its customers in Iowa. The carrier will continue to deploy the technology throughout its footprint into next year.