MetroPCS did not fare as well. The company reported EPS of $0.19 on revenue of $1.2 billion. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $0.23 and revenue of $1.22 billion. The company added 69,000 new customers in the quarter, a big drop from the 199,000 it added in the second quarter.
The challenge from Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile in the pre-paid market hurt MetroPCS’s revenues and earnings. This does not help the AT&T/T-Mobile plan to sell off some assets to other carriers as the two companies try to get their proposed merger through the regulatory process. MetroPCS was viewed as a possible buyer of those assets, but lower customer additions and lower profits are not usually conducive to expansion plans.
Sprint has no interest in buying any assets that AT&T/T-Mobile want to shed. The number three US carrier has fought the proposed merger every step of the way. Verizon Wireless, the joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone plc (NASDAQ: VOD), has had essentially no comment on the proposed merger, but certainly has little to gain from a tie-up between AT&T and T-Mobile.
The US Justice Department’s suit to stop the merger got a boost yesterday when a federal court prevented H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) from buying low-cost tax preparer TaxAct, citing anti-trust violations. The deal was worth less than $300 million but the Justice Department argued that the merger would leave just two tax-prep firms, Block and Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU). Similarly, the AT&T deal would leave just one behemoth, AT&T, while Verizon Wireless would fall to a distant second place and be virtually forced to acquire Sprint in order to stay competitive.
The inability or unwillingness of another company to pick up AT&T/T-Mobile assets, coupled with the Block ruling, could be the beginning of the end for the proposed merger.
MetroPCS shares are down more than -7% this morning at $7.89, after posting a new 52-week low of $7.58. Leap Wireless is faring better, up more than 16%, at $8.09, in a 52-week range of $5.50-$17.66.