Sprint Adds Wireless Subs, Narrows Losses in 3Q

By Josh Long Comments
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Sprint Nextel Corp. posted its best quarter of subscriber additions in about five years, breathing life into a wireless provider that has been struggling with financial losses and fighting to keep pace with the growth of its bigger competitors, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

The No. 3 U.S. wireless provider added nearly 1.3 million wireless customers to end the third quarter with about 53.5 million subscribers, including 32.9 million postpaid customers. In spite of such progress, Sprint still lost 44,000 contract customers, although that figure marked a 59 percent improvement over 107,000 postpaid customer losses in the year-ago quarter.

Postpaid churn – a measure of the percentage of customers who leave the carrier – was 1.91 percent, up from 1.75 percent in the second quarter but an improvement from the quarter a year ago (1.93 percent). “Quarterly postpaid churn improved year-over-year primarily as a result of a larger base of customers on fixed rate bundled plans or 4G handsets, which typically have a lower deactivation rate," Sprint explained.

Another good sign for Sprint was that its financial loss narrowed to $301 million from $911 million in the third quarter of 2010. In other news, Sprint announced amending the terms of its credit agreement and increasing by $150 million the total committed amount of its revolving credit facility. As of September 30, 2011, Sprint’s had total liquidity of $5 billion, including $4 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and $1 billion of undrawn borrowing capacity available under its revolving bank credit facility. Sprint’s has $2.3 billion in debt due in March 2012.

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