Sprint Paring Losses Almost as Quickly as Subscriber Base
Sprint Nextel has been hemorrhaging subscribers like Dan Ackroyd’s exsanguinating Julia Child for the past several quarters and its latest one was no different. Announcing fourth-quarter results that, remarkably, came in ahead of expectations, the much diminished wireless carrier said it lost 1.27 million customers during the period, for a loss of 4.58 million subscribers in 2008. Sprint ended the year with 49.3 million wireless customers, down 8.4 percent from 53.8 million customers at the end of 2007.
That said, Sprint’s (S) fourth-quarter net loss was narrower than expected–excluding write-downs, it came in at one cent per share, beating analysts’ expectations of a loss of three cents per share. According to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, there’s some hope in that. “Subscriber losses and revenue declines are obviously unacceptably high,” he said during the company’s earnings call. “But it takes time for perceptions about our customer care and financial stability to catch up to the reality.”
Hopefully, the debut of Palm’s (PALM) new Pre handset later this year will do something to further that. Company expectations for it are clearly quite high. Said Hesse, “We are bullish about the potential for this device.”
Sprint’s long-suffering shares rose 64 cents, or 24 percent, to $3.35 in early morning trading.