Jefferies Cuts U.S. Carriers' Q4 2017 Growth Estimates

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Jefferies has lowered its expectations for mobile service providers in the U.S. for the fourth quarter in terms of customer additions by an average of 23 percent. The major carriers in the country are now estimated to post around 466,000 fewer postpaid adds over the course of the final quarter of 2017. However, the numbers aren't spread evenly across carriers, either. Jefferies cites the emergence of a less aggressive approach to customer acquisition from providers as one reason for the reevaluation. Shortages in supply for some mobile devices, with Apple's iPhone X listed specifically, are also listed as part of the problem.

As to how the numbers are split, the investment firm now predicts that Verizon's numbers will come in at just over 15 percent less than previously estimated, with around 123,000 fewer postpaid customer additions than previously projected. Meanwhile, AT&T is expected to post around the same number fewer postpaid acquisitions than previously expected, which is actually a larger drop of around 27.6 percent for the company. T-Mobile, on the other hand, appears to fare better. The Uncarrier will only fall in around 4.9 percent below Jefferies' prior evaluation, posting around 55,000 fewer adds than was previously predicted. Sprint is expected to take the brunt of the damage as the country's fourth largest mobile service provider has had its expectations cut by around 45 percent and is expected to post around 165,000 fewer additional postpaid customers than previously was speculated.

Despite posting much more conservative estimates, analysts at Jefferies have also stated that T-Mobile could beat Wall Street expectations for postpaid subscriber additions. If it does, the analysts expect those gains to be the result of general subscriber churn among other carriers, as opposed to being brought about by increased competition within the industry in general. T-Mobile, for its part, has largely continued pursuing the growth of its network and retail presence, in addition to running several competitive offers well into the quarter, much like it usually does. However, while the numbers really don't look great for any specific carrier, whether any of these estimates turn out to be accurate remains to be seen once telecom giants post their financial reports in the coming weeks.

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