T-Mobile adds 7M customers over past year, looks ahead to Sprint merger and 5G buildout

T-Mobile CEO John Legere accepts the award for CEO of the Year at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

T-Mobile called 2018 a record year financially for the company, setting the stage for some lofty goals in 2019, chief among them completing a blockbuster merger with Sprint and getting ready to build out a nationwide 5G network.

Revenue: T-Mobile posted total revenue of $11.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up 6 percent over last year and just ahead of analyst expectations. In 2018, T-Mobile brought in a total of $43.25 billion in revenue, also just ahead of analyst expectations and up 7 percent over 2017.

Profits: T-Mobile’s net profits dropped 76 percent in the fourth quarter compared to last year. At $640 million — or $0.75 per share — T-Mobile profits still came in ahead of analyst expectations. For the full year, T-Mobile’s net profits declined 36 percent to $2.9 billion — or $3.36 per share.

Excluding changes in the tax code, T-Mobile says its profits for both the quarter and the year were actually up 21 and 22 percent respectively.

New customers: T-Mobile added 2.4 million new customers in the fourth quarter, bringing the annual total to 7 million, up from 5.6 million additions in 2017. T-Mobile has added more than a million customers in 23rd straight quarters, and it now has nearly 80 million customers, up from 72.6 million at the end of last year.

T-Mobile stock is up close to 2 percent in early-morning trading.

T-Mobile has a big year ahead in 2019, headlined by the projected closing of the mega-merger with Sprint. If approved by regulators, the $26 billion deal would combine the nation’s third and fourth-largest carriers. T-Mobile and Sprint executives continue to lobby regulators, and the companies pledged not to increase rates for customers for the first three years post-merger in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Monday.

T-Mobile claims the deal will allow the combined company to better compete with industry titans AT&T and Verizon and catalyze American leadership in the development of 5G wireless technology. T-Mobile said it is building out standards-based 5G today, with plans to have nationwide 5G coverage in place next year.