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Sprint's trick to making money: A year of free of service


Verizon's launch of an unlimited data plan hurt Sprint's subscriber numbers during the quarter, Claure conceded, but Sprint added 115,000 new customers in July as the market calmed.

(S) - Charter, one of the largest cable companies in the U.S., says it's not interested in buying Sprint, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. Sprint, which is unprofitable and has a lot of debt, had proposed an acquisition by Charter, according to published reports. The company has been exploring deal options with T-Mobile US Inc but faces the hurdle of reaching an agreement on price as well as getting the deal approved by regulators.

Its prepaid business, likely helped by the new Virgin plan, signed up a net 35,000 new customers, compared with a loss of 306,000 customers from a year ago.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that the profit was "an important milestone" for the carrier on its way to transform its cost structure.

In its latest quarter, Sprint added 88,000 customers that pay a monthly bill, its most lucrative customers, versus 173,000 the year before.

He would not give specifics on merger discussions, adding Sprint would leave doing so to an announcement that "should be coming in the near future".


The cable company serving Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky could get its third owner in two years if Japanese tech giant SoftBank Group Corp. succeeds in buying Charter Communications. And while Charter recently said it "has no interest in acquiring Sprint", Claure said that offer was never on the table-perhaps leaving the door open for some other kind of arrangement with the cable operator.

Much of Sprint's financial improvement has come from cutting costs through layoffs early in the turnaround and more widespread expense controls during two years. That reversed a loss of $302 million a year ago and beat analysts expectations of a 1 cent a share loss.

"We observed last quarter that we've never in our careers encountered a company whose financial reports, on an as-reported basis, make it as hard to discern underlying trends (although, to be fair, the entire wireless sector is problematic on this score)", Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson wrote in a note to investors. Sprint now expects operating income of $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion, up from $2 billion to $2.5 billion.

A Charter spokesman declined to comment on Monday on whether the company would sell to the wireless carrier.

Sprint stock reacted to the news going up by 3% to $8.20.

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