We examine the valuation role of customer acquisition cost, retention and usage in the wireless industry during the period 1997-2004. We develop and test a model that links customer acquisition cost, customer retention and call usage to future financial performance and valuation. In doing so, we control for the role of traditional accounting measures as predictors of firm performance. Although the wireless industry maintains a rapid pace of technological and commercial changes, fundamental accounting numbers are found to be value relevant. We provide new evidence that customer acquisition cost is likely a firm value driver. Specifically, we show that this cost is positively associated with customer retention, future profits and current market values. However, customer acquisition cost is not associated with future revenues, suggesting that successful investment in customer acquisition is capable of saving future expenses and hence of improving profitability. There does not seem to be a direct association between customer retention and usage. Nevertheless, we document a positive relation between retention and future revenues, as well as a positive association between usage and future profits. Collectively, these results suggest that retention and usage play an important mediating role linking customer acquisition with benefit generation. Consistent with this, we find some evidence that customer retention and usage enhance market values.
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