Why Leap Wireless' Shares Got Crushed

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 prepaid cell service specialist Leap Wireless (NAS: LEAP) were losing their connection with investors today, falling as much as 26% in intraday trading after the company reported first-quarter results.

So what: As you might be able to guess from the stock market's reaction, Leap's first quarter did not look good. Despite the fact that the company began its earnings press release by highlighting "solid operating and financial performance," the first quarter was actually a highly disappointing one for investors.

Net loss per share climbed to $1.28, from $1.26 last year, even though Wall Street analysts had expected a loss of just $0.98. Revenue climbed 6% from a year ago, but that was also short of analysts' estimates. And the 258,000 net new customers added? Yup, you guessed it, that missed expectations as well.

Now what: In addition, the churn rate for customers at Leap increased year over year to 3.3% and the company's CEO said that it would likely climb further in the second quarter. He also noted that demand for smart-devices that carry higher-cost plans is slowing, and the improvement in the company's average revenue per user (ARPU) will slow in the quarter ahead. This could be particularly troubling in light of the tough competition that the company faces and the growth in the cost of adding new users.

All in all, while a single quarter's results rarely make or break a company or an investment, this was not a pleasant update for Leap shareholders to read.

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

At the time thisarticle 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 does not have a financial interest in any of the 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.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.