Leap Wireless Shares Popped: 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 service provider Leap Wireless (NAS: LEAP) rang up gains today, rising as much as 11% in intraday trading after the company reported fourth-quarter results.

So what: OK, so the parent of the Cricket wireless brand is still losing money. The good news, however, is that it not only lost less money, it also -- and here's the important part -- lost less money than expected. For the final quarter of the year, Leap reported a loss per share of $1.10, down sharply from a $3.28-per-share loss in the same quarter last year. Wall Street analysts had been expecting the company to lose $1.11. On the other hand, revenue was lighter than anticipated, as growth of 8% to $767 million lagged behind analysts' average estimate of $808 million.

Now what: The performance for the fourth quarter was driven by continued growth throughout the company. End-of-quarter customers grew 7.5% from 2011, to 5.9 million, as churn fell slightly and the average revenue per user climbed 10%. Looking ahead, the company noted that it's pushing forward in a number of directions, including the introduction of new phones and devices and starting up its first 4G services.

With a solid history of losses, heavy build-out costs that gobble up cash, and brutal competition, I can't say that Leap is an investment opportunity that grabs me, but this past quarter was definitely worthy of some investor cheering.

Want to keep up to date on Leap Wireless? Add it to your Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferdoes not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter@KoppTheFoolorFacebook.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. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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