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U.S. Cellular (USM) Misses Earnings & Revenue Estimates in Q2

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United States Cellular Corporation (USM - Free Report) reported unimpressive second-quarter 2021 results, wherein both the bottom line and the top line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Net Income

Net income in the June quarter was $35 million or 39 cents per share compared with $68 million or 78 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. The decline was primarily due to lower operating income and higher interest expense. The bottom line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4 cents.


Quarterly total operating revenues increased 4.2% year over year to $1,014 million, which reflects growth in service revenues and equipment sales. Service revenues grew 2.8% to $774 million, driven by higher postpaid average revenue per user (ARPU) as customers chose higher-value plans. Equipment sales jumped 9.1% to $240 million. The top line, however, marginally missed the consensus estimate of $1,015 million.

Other Details

Total operating expenses increased 6.3% year over year to $978 million. Operating income was $36 million, down from $53 million. In the first six months of 2021, adjusted EBITDA came in at $567 million, while adjusted OIBDA was $476 million.

Operating Metrics

Total cell sites in service were 6,819 at the end of the reported quarter compared with 6,673 a year ago. The company-owned towers were 4,278, up from 4,208.

As of Jun 30, 2021, postpaid ARPU increased to $47.74 from $46.24 year over year, and postpaid average revenue per account grew to $125.25 from $120.70. Postpaid churn declined to 1.11% from 0.89% in the year-ago quarter. Prepaid ARPU increased to $35.64 from $34.89, while prepaid churn fell to 3.66% from 4.05%.


As of Jun 30, 2021, the company had $267 million in cash and cash equivalents with $2,710 million of long-term debt.

2021 Guidance Reaffirmed

U.S. Cellular continues to make meaningful progress toward its strategic priorities in a competitive environment. The company’s efforts to expand its prepaid business have started to generate positive results and its business-and-government initiatives are laying the foundation for future growth. U.S. Cellular’s 5G and network modernization programs are on track while it continues to be optimistic about the performance capabilities of the millimeter wave spectrum.

The company has reaffirmed guidance for full-year 2021. It expects service revenues in the band of $3,050-$3,150 million. Adjusted EBITDA is projected in the range of $1,025-$1,125 million. Adjusted OIBDA is anticipated in the band of $850-$950 million. Capital expenditures are estimated between $775 million and $875 million.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

U.S. Cellular currently has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader industry are Clearfield, Inc. (CLFD - Free Report) , Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR - Free Report) and Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM - Free Report) . While Clearfield carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Juniper and Qualcomm carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Clearfield delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 49%, on average.

Juniper pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 7.5%, on average.

Qualcomm delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 13.5%, on average.

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