While T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) has a notoriously media-hungry CEO in John Legere, its other top executives aren't exactly wallflowers. President/COO Mike Sievert and CFO Braxton Carter have often been called upon by their boss to represent the company, and while they're perhaps not as brash as he is, they're still willing to speak their minds.
And that's what they did at the Citi 2019 Global TMT West Conference, where the pair delivered the keynote address in the form of an interview conducted by Citi Research's Mike Rollins. In their remarks, Sievert and Carter explained their company's priorities for 2019, and discussed its proposed merger with Sprint (NYSE:S).
A three-legged stool
Carter said T-Mobile has three main priorities for the new year. The first is to "continue the path of significant value creation," according to Seeking Alpha's transcript of the interview. The challenge, he explained is "really balancing growth and profitability."
The second priority -- getting the Sprint deal across the finish line -- is one the company has less control over. Carter was careful in his remarks as he laid out what T-Mobile's leadership team has been doing to make the case for approval.
"Mike has been very instrumental in driving this with John," he said. "Sort of highly respectful, humble and putting the facts on the table that this is the right thing for America, increasing competition and tremendous benefit to the consumer factually proven given the analysis that's part of the record."
Priority three is continuing the company's Un-carrier efforts. T-Mobile will make "significant continued investment in our network, laying the foundation for 5G, and upon that, apply very aggressive and innovative marketing," said Carter.
No deceleration of growth
T-Mobile released its third-quarter results on the day of the conference, reporting its 22nd straight quarter of adding at least 1 million customers. Sievert addressed a common misperception that the company's growth was slowing. So far, he said, it isn't.
"It's a virtuous circle of investing in customers and investing in a network," he said. "... And what that does when you invest in them, they come and then they stay. And so customer growth results in revenue growth, revenue growth results in EBITDA growth. That results in cash generation, and that's been a strategy now that's been unfolding for several years that's created us an excellent story for our company."
All about the network
Sievert and Carter repeatedly pointed to the growth of T-Mobile's network via the Sprint deal, and the rollout of 5G as opportunities for 2019. The CFO made it very clear that the company sees its network as a driver for its growth.
"We are going to create a network here that Americans have never seen, and won't see for years to come but for this merger, and that has massive benefits for our society as well," Sievert said. He also noted that T-Mobile has generated 25 million pages of documents for the government to back up its case in favor of allowing the merger.
A waiting game
Both Sievert and Carter expressed confidence that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger would happen, but were also careful to not take anything for granted. While the company waits for decisions from those regulators that have yet to rule on the matter, it has had to make proceed on two parallel tracks: on the one hand, advancing its solo strategies; on the other, working out how it would integrate Sprint.
That's a major challenge, but one that the company has so far handled very well, judging by its numbers. Once that issue goes away (likely with the approval of the merger) T-Mobile's leadership team should be able to narrow its focus to driving the new company forward -- specifically by expanding its 5G network.