Meteor subscriber base nears 200,000 mark

5 May 2004

Mobile operator Meteor aggressively continued to acquire new customers during the first three months of 2004, according to its owner, Western Wireless Corporation, which last night announced operating results for the quarter ended 31 March, 2004.

Meteor added 18,600 customers during the period, bringing to 199,200 the number of subscribers on its books – virtually all of them pre-paid.

Washington-based Western Wireless reported total revenues of US$448.9m for the first quarter, a 37pc increase over the first quarter of 2003.

Net income for the quarter was US$31.4m or US$0.32 per diluted share. This compares to a net loss of US$24.0m, or US$0.30 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2003. Consolidated adjusted EBITDA rose to US$142.5m for the quarter, a 51pc increase from the same quarter last year.

In customer acquisition terms, Western Wireless International (WWI) grew much faster than its US sister operator. Net customer additions for WWI for the quarter were 145,200 compared with just 22,900 in the US, although the US market accounts for some 42pc of overall revenues.

Total revenues for WWI’s six consolidated businesses including Meteor were US$199.5m for the quarter, an increase of 89pc over the first quarter of 2003. These businesses yielded a EBITDA profit of US$37.7m, compared to a loss of US$3.5m for the first quarter of 2003.

Across the group, average revenues per user for the quarter rose to US$47.80, an increase of 6.6pc over the first quarter of 2003.

“First quarter results for Western Wireless demonstrate the continued solid performance of both of our businesses, highlighted by impressive net income from consolidated operations,” said John Stanton, chairman and chief executive officer of the Washington-based telco.

Stanton continued: “Our consolidated international operations continue to perform exceptionally well. Internationally, we added 145,200 customers in the first quarter and now have over 1.3 million customers.”

By Brian Skelly