MetroPCS Communications Inc. is wowing Wall Street with the biggest IPO of the year, and one of the largest since 2004.
The wireless provider which targets low-income and young subscribers debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday under the ticker PCS.
MetroPCS priced its 50 million shares at $23; it hopes to earn up to $1.15 billion. By early Friday afternoon, prices had skyrocketed to $28.37 on volume of 4.1 million shares.
MetroPCSs main competitor is Leap Wireless International Inc. That provider also has been popular among investors. On Friday, Leap Wireless shares stood at $79.95, up from the previous days close of $77.38.
The first quarter of 2007 has seen some large IPOs in the telecom sector, most notably the $600 million offering from broadband provider Clearwire Corp., but nothing like this.
MetroPCS has tried going public before once in 1997, under the name General Wireless Inc., and again in the summer of 2004. General Wireless went bankrupt and emerged as MetroPCS, which halted its intended 2004 IPO because of accounting problems that revealed lower profits and sales than believed.
The company has since emerged as one of the top competitors in the credit-conscious wireless services space. Last year it bought $1.4 billion worth of spectrum from the FCC to expand its coverage. The company says it will use proceeds from its IPO to move into Boston, Las Vegas, New York and Philadelphia.
Dallas-based MetroPCS boasts 3.4 million customers, mostly in parts of California, Florida and Georgia.
Leap Wireless International Inc. www.leapwireless.com