Sprint Nextel Still Struggling to Keep Subscribers
Sprint hasn’t posted a quarterly net gain in wireless subscribers in longer than anyone would care to remember, and its latest quarter was no different. Reporting fourth-quarter earnings this morning, the carrier said it lost a net 148,000 subscribers during the quarter. 504,000 contract or “postpaid” subscribers fled, but the carrier offset those losses by signing up 435,000 “prepaid” customers.
This was a marked improvement from the third quarter, when Sprint (S) lost a net 545,000 subscribers. So Sprint, while clearly not taking market share away from Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), is at least it’s doing a better job of holding on to the market share it has–or is at least losing share less quickly than previously (see charts; click to enlarge).
Not that this effort is helping the company’s bottom line all that much. For the quarter, Sprint posted a loss of $980 million, or 34 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.6 billion, or 57 cents per share a year earlier. Excluding charges, that loss was 23 cents per share–quite a bit worse than the loss of 19 cents analysts had been expecting. Revenue was disappointed as well, falling to $7.87 billion from $8.43 billion. Analysts had been expecting $8.01 billion.
So when can we expect Sprint to return to subscriber and revenue growth? On a conference call with analysts this morning CEO Dan Hesse declined to say.