Sprint Posts a Profit

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Sprint Corp. reported operating results for the first fiscal quarter of 2014, including net income of $23 million, the best performance in almost seven years when excluding non-cash transaction-related items from 2013, and consolidated operating income of $519 million, the highest in more than seven years, Sprint said.

That Sprint reporting a "profit" is news tells you how far Sprint has had to battle back from many years of challenges.

“Adjusted” earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.83 billion grew 30 percent over the prior year period and Adjusted EBITDA margin of nearly 24 percent was the company’s best in six years.

EBITDA is operating income or loss before depreciation and amortization. Adjusted EBITDA is EBITDA excluding severance, exit costs, and other special items

The Sprint platform reported a net loss of 220,000 customers in the quarter, compared to a net loss of 383,000 customers last quarter and 520,000 customers in the prior year period.

Sprint platform postpaid net losses of 181,000 during the quarter were largely due to expected elevated churn levels related to service disruption associated with the company’s ongoing network overhaul, Sprint said.

However, Sprint platform postpaid gross additions grew by 16 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.

Sprint postpaid average revenue per subscriber dipped to $62.07 from $64.20 a year earlier. Prepaid ARPU, on the other hand, rose from $26.96 in the same quarter of 2013 to $27.38 in the latest quarter.

The story is of grinding progress. One might argue that slow gradual improvements are not enough to support a Sprint that can gain ground on Verizon Wireless and AT&T, especially when T-Mobile U.S. has assumed the attacker and disrupter role many believed a SoftBank-owned Sprint would itself adopt.

One might also argue that the Sprint effort to acquire T-Mobile U.S. already indicates that SoftBank could have miscalculated Sprint’s ability to rapidly shift to a disruptive role in the U.S. mobile market.

In that view, the reason Sprint is moving to try and acquire T-Mobile U.S. is that Sprint’s owners already discount the ability of making big market share gains on an organic basis. A merged Sprint plus T-Mobile US, lead by former T-Mobile US executives, would then be in position to make a sustained marketing attack.



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Contributing Editor

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