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Sprint Profitable, But Customer Hemorrhaging a Major Problem

A lot of investors’ eyes were on Sprint on Wednesday, as the wireless giant issued its first quarterly earnings report since being mostly acquired by SoftBank and closing on its acquisition of Clearwire and the company didn’t disappoint.

Sprint made a profit of $383 million in the third quarter, a whole lot better than the $767 million loss it suffered in the year-ago quarter. Its operating loss, however, was $398 million, up from $231 million in the third quarter of 2012. Revenue slipped 2 percent, to a little less than $8.7 billion.

Sprint, which sold about three-quarters of its business to SoftBank, is benefitting from a cash infusion from the Japanese-owned company. That helped Sprint acquire Clearwire, the spectrum-rich broadband provider earlier this year.

The good news is tempered with bad. The carrier is struggling to keep up with bigger rivals AT&T and Verizon, which are signing up more customers on contract who deliver a higher ARPU (average revenue per user), CNET noted. And smaller competitor T-Mobile, which recently did away with postpaid contracts for new subscribers, is doing well with the lower end of the spectrum. Sprint finds itself stuck in the middle.

It all added up to a net loss of 313,000 customers for the Overland Park, Kan.-based company. That included the loss of 360,000 contract subscribers. Overall, the company ended the quarter with 54.8 million customers.

Sprint sold 1.4 million iPhones last quarter compare that to Verizon Wireless’ 3.9 million.

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