By Anjali Athavaley and Aishwarya Venugopal
(Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc's quarterly results topped analysts' estimates as the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier on Wednesday reported record low customer attrition and said it was considering a quarterly dividend.
T-Mobile has been gaining share from larger competitors AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc in a saturated U.S. wireless market through network improvements and lower prices.
Shares rose 3 percent to $63.90 in after-hours trading.
The company had said it was open to considering various strategic options and has acknowledged interest in talking with rival Sprint Corp about a merger.
But such discussions appear to be on hold as Sprint explores other partnerships. Sources told Reuters in June that Sprint, controlled by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, had entered into a two-month period of exclusive negotiations with cable companies Charter Communications Inc and Comcast Corp until the end of July.
Sources also told Reuters that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc and John Malone's Liberty Media Corp were exploring an investment of $10 billion to $20 billion in Sprint.
"I would say we have the same but maybe more opportunities from an inorganic or an expansion standpoint than we had last quarter," Chief Executive John Legere said on the company's post-earnings conference call.
In April, Legere said satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp had access to content and spectrum and noted Sprint had "an awful lot of scale." Amazon.com Inc and internet companies should be considered because "they drive great value for shareholders," he added.
As for Sprint, "investors may begin to rethink whether they want a merger, or at least, whether they want one now," Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in a note. Shares of T-Mobile and Sprint trade at similar multiples of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) despite T-Mobile's stronger performance, he said.
T-Mobile added 786,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill in the second quarter ended June 30, up from 646,000 in the year-ago period. Analysts on average had expected net additions of 607,000, according to research firm FactSet.
Churn, or customer defections, was 1.1 percent, a record low.
"We're actually starting to have conversations about instituting a small quarterly dividend that we can grow in the future," Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter said on the call.
Net income rose to $581 million, or 67 cents per share, from $225 million, or 25 cents per share, a year earlier. Total revenue grew to $10.21 billion from $9.29 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 38 cents per share on revenue of $9.81 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
(Reporting by Anjali Athavaley in New York and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Richard Chang)