MoffettNathanson: T-Mobile Shares Downgraded To "Neutral"

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MoffettNathanson has been downgraded T-Mobile's share status from "Buy" to "Neutral" in the wake of market uneasiness and dramatic changes to T-Mobile's own plans and prospects. On the back of the big reveal of T-Mobile's new plans and the demise of their old, data-limited plans, the entire wireless market is in a state of potential flux, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because of this, MoffettNathanson is asserting that those who were going to buy shares of T-Mobile under the impression that an upswing was coming should watch the whole market closely; if another player mimics T-Mobile's moves, it could easily undermine them. Likewise, stickler Verizon and premium player AT&T remain relative unknowns, by nature of their potential to influence the market with a sudden decision. While MoffettNathanson maintains that T-Mobile is in a good position in the market, they've dropped their share projections for T-Mobile from $65 to $61, and are saying that AT&T and Sprint are in precarious positions. Average revenue per user is in flux across the industry.

T-Mobile's move is only the latest in a longtime, industry-wide pricing and data allotment war that is beginning to plateau as operators make clever moves to keep revenue per user on the high end, or even sacrifice it to gain more users, as T-Mobile has. The new plans have garnered various levels of approval and dismay from a number of elements. Wells Fargo, for example, observed that current data shows T-Mobile as having put forth a winning Q4 performance, and even projected that it would be unsurpassed when everybody laid out their Q4 earnings calls. On the back of that observation, they raised their stock estimate for T-Mobile. Users, the media, and other industry players, of course, have been vocal across the internet in various capacities. At this point, Verizon is the only holdout on unlimited data among the four major players, and seem to not be paying the price war going on within their sphere much heed.

As a reminder, the action that caused all of this was T-Mobile announcing at CES that their Simple Choice plans, including the unlimited option among them, were no more. Taking their place would be T-Mobile ONE, and T-Mobile ONE Plus. The Plus plan is a bit more expensive, but comes with absolutely no restrictions or strings attached, even the longtime industry pain point of tethering. These plans also roll the taxes and fess into the base price, decluttering users' bills and allowing T-Mobile to compete with MVNOs in the arena of consumers who want a simple experience. This was the bulk of Un-Carrier Next, which was teased for CES a little while before by a video aping a video game.

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