Leap Wireless narrows 3Q loss

SAN DIEGO (AP) ? Leap Wireless International Inc., which owns the Cricket cellular service, on Monday reported a narrowed third-quarter net loss as it gained more customers than it lost and the year-ago quarter included a large impairment charge.

Shares of Leap, which gained 10,000 subscribers, climbed 8 percent in aftermarket trading.

For the quarter that ended Sept. 30, Leap reported a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $68.8 million, or 90 cents per share. This compares with a net loss of $536.3 million, or $7.06 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

The third quarter of 2010 included $477.3 million in goodwill impairment charges and charges for the write-off of network expansion costs.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected a net loss, excluding one-time items, of 81 cents per share.

Revenue rose 20 percent to $763.3 million, but fell slightly short of the $766.2 million analysts expected.

The vast majority of Leap’s revenue comes from its wireless services, which rose 19 percent to $717 million.

At the end of the quarter, Leap had 5.8 million subscribers. The company said it gained a net 10,000 subscribers during the third quarter, as it added 73,000 phone customers ? many of whom were drawn to its smartphones and phones that work with its Muve Music download service ? and lost 64,000 broadband customers. Leap has stopped marketing this service due to the load the users place on its network.

Leap reported 5.1 million subscribers in the same quarter a year earlier ? it lost a net 200,000 customers in that period.

Leap shares rose 56 cents, or 8.1 percent, to $7.51 in after-hours trading. The stock finished regular trading up 10 cents at $6.95.