Sprint Now Gaining Subscribers Instead of Losing Them
Good news for long-suffering Sprint Nextel investors: Customer retention has finally improved to the point where the carrier is able to report actual gains in postpaid subscribers, rather than losses.
Posting fourth-quarter earnings this morning, Sprint said it added 1.1 million total wireless subscribers, 58,000 of them two-year contract customers. Quite a milestone for a company that hasn’t seen a gain in postpaid subscribers in 13 quarters and a sign that Sprint may finally be turning a corner. Another good sign: Postpaid churn fell to 1.86 percent from 2.11 percent in the third quarter, and prepaid churn fell to 4.93 percent from 5.32 percent. And another: For the quarter, Sprint added almost 1.1 million wireless subscribers, its best showing in nearly five years.
All welcome news, even if Sprint is still losing money. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $929 million, or 31 cents a share, on revenue of $8.3 billion, up from $7.9 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast a loss of 30 cents a share on $8.15 billion in revenue. Said Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, “Sprint CEO Dan Hesse might be forgiven for the temptation to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier that is Sprint. To his credit, he expressly declined to do so. Still, the company has at last achieved post-paid and total subscriber growth, customer service levels have improved, churn rates have been brought under control, and revenues were up.”
At $4.41, Sprint shares are up 1.15 percent in early trading as I write this.