Sprint Nextel Corp., which has been struggling to keep wireless subscribers, on Wednesday reported that it lost $211 million, or 7 cents per share, during the first quarter. Thats compared to profit of $417 million, or 12 cents per share, a year ago.
The financial losses translated into fewer customers, as well. Sprint Nextel said 220,000 monthly users canceled service in the first quarter, marking the third quarter in a row that the carrier has watched its subscribers move to competitors. Sprint which bought Nextel in 2005 now has 53.6 million customers. AT&T Inc., on the other hand, claims 62.2 million subscribers, while Verizon reports 60.7 million.
Sprint Nextel Chairman and CEO Gary Forsee assured investors that the company is working to shore up its technological issues and improve its often-derided customer service. He said some of the first-quarter losses also occurred because Sprint Nextel lowered wireless plan prices to stay competitive and spent money on network upgrades.
The carrier did have a couple of bright spots, however. Data services revenue jumped to $1.2 billion, a 44 percent increase, while 200,000 more customers signed on for Internet long-distance phone service.
Sprint Nextels stock had soared 56 cents by early afternoon, trading at $20.57 on the New York Stock Exchange, on volume of 17.6 million shares.
Sprint Nextel Corp. www.sprint.com