DALLAS (AP) – MetroPCS Communications Inc., a regional, low-cost cell phone company, on Thursday said its fourth-quarter net income declined, hurt by a debt extinguishment loss, but its revenue improved.

The Dallas-based company earned $13.6 million, or 4 cents per share, down from $33.1 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding the debt charges and a gain related to an airwave license exchange, MetroPCS earned 20 cents per share in the latest quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations.

Revenue jumped 15 percent to $1.07 billion from $930 million.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 15 cents per share on revenue of $1.07 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

MetroPCS shares jumped 33 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $13.09 in premarket trading.

As previously announced, the company added a net 297,726 net subscribers during the quarter. It ended the year with 8.15 million subscribers, making it the fifth-largest cell phone company after the Big Four national carriers AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA.

MetroPCS sells phones and monthly service plans on so-called “prepaid” terms, without contracts. Its average monthly revenue per user was $39.79, down from $40.70 a year ago.

The percentage of subscribers cancelling service every month, or the “churn,” was 3.5 percent, down from 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. MetroPCS attributed the reduction to the elimination of a free first month of service, which encouraged some subscribers to drop service and then immediately re-up with a new phone, producing “false churn.”

For the full year, the company earned $193.4 million, or 54 cents per share, up from $176.8 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue climbed to $4.07 billion from $3.48 billion.

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