Nextel (NXTL) posted in-line numbers Thursday, getting a big push on the subscriber front from its prepaid Boost Mobile service.

The Reston, Va., wireless telco reported an adjusted net profit of $444 million, or 40 cents a share, on $3.6 billion in sales. Those numbers compare with a 39-cent profit on sales of $3.6 billion in the prior quarter ended in December, and a 51-cent bottom line on $3.1 billion in revenue in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had been looking for a 41-cent profit on sales of $3.5 billion, according to Reuters Research.

Nextel added 810,000 subscribers in the first quarter ended in March, largely on the popularity of its youth-targeted Boost Mobile service. Nextel subscriber additions were 496,000 in the quarter and Boost signed on 314,000 new customers. Nextel has a total of 17 million subscribers with 1.5 million of those people signed on with Boost.

Monthly churn at Boost was 5%, a number that isn't included in Nextel's monthly defection rate of 1.5% in the recent quarter.

"Nextel is on track to accomplish its financial, operating and strategic goals for 2005," said CFO Paul Saleh in a press release Thursday.

The company's industry-leading average revenue per user, or monthly ARPU, dropped to $67. That was slightly below some analysts estimates and a 3% year-over-year decline.

Nextel says the regulatory timeline on its pending merger with

Sprint

(FON)

could lead to a close of the deal by August.

Shares of the walkie-talkie telco were unchanged in premarket trading.