Ina Fried

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Cricket Parent Leap Wireless Narrows Loss, Adds Customers

Leap Wireless, the parent company of Cricket, on Thursday posted a net loss as the prepaid carrier continued to add customers.

The company said it lost $84.4 million, or $1.10 per share, on revenue of $767 million. That compares to a $249.4 million loss, or $3.28 per share, on revenue of $708 million, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Leap said it added 179,000 net new customers in the quarter compared to 107,000 net customer additions in the year-ago quarter. It also said 60 percent of new handset sales in the most recent quarter were either smartphones or devices that connect to the company’s Muve Music unlimited music service.

That’s helping the company drive up its average monthly revenue per customer, which reached $42.09 in the fourth quarter, up 10 percent from a year ago and 2 percent sequentially.

“We had solid performance in the fourth quarter and are pleased with the operational progress the business has made,” CEO Doug Hutcheson said in a statement. “Churn performance was solid, despite some billing system disruptions that affected both new sales and existing customers in the quarter.”

The company has also announced plans for its first LTE market — Tucson, Ariz. — and said it plans for the high-speed network to reach 25 million potential customers by the end of the year. Leap, once a regional player, is also taking the Cricket brand nationwide.

With AT&T having failed in its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA, some have seen Leap as a potential acquisition target for Ma Bell.

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