MetroPCS Shares Got Crushed: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of wireless services provider MetroPCS (NYS: PCS) were getting no bars from investors today as shares fell as much as 11% in reaction to the company's third-quarter earnings.

So what: On the bright side, revenue for the third quarter was up 18% from last year and basically in line with analysts' estimates. Total subscribers at the end of the quarter were 9.1 million, up 16% from 7.9 million at the end of last year's third quarter.

However, customer churn rose, net subscriber additions slowed, and profitability suffered. Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of service revenue -- a measure of profitability -- fell to 28.9% during the quarter, from 33.4% last year. Meanwhile, net income dropped 10% and earnings per share clocked in at $0.19, down from $0.22 last year and short of the $0.23 that analysts were looking for.

Now what: I can't say that this is the kind of business that appeals to me at all. The business itself is highly capital intensive and with massive competitors like AT&T (NYS: T) and Verizon (NYS: VZ) , every inch is hard-fought. Certainly this doesn't mean that MetroPCS can't be successful, but investors will want to watch the coming quarters closely to see whether higher churn and slower growth become a trend.

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At the time this article was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of AT&T, but does not have a financial interest in any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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