Sprint loses money, more subscribers in third quarter

Sprint lost 135,000 retail subscribers, but added that its year-over-year post paid gross additions were a sign the company was headed in the right direction.

Sprint Nextel continues to lose money and subscribers.

The company said Thursday that it reported a third quarter net loss of $478 million, or 17 cents a share. That tally was 3 cents worse than Wall Street expectations. Revenue was $8 billion, down 9 percent from a year ago.

In addition, Sprint lost 135,000 retail subscribers (statement). However, Sprint said that its year-over-year post paid gross additions were a sign the company was headed in the right direction. Sprint has been saying that for a few quarters, but it's unclear how long the Wall Street patience will last.

The big question: Is this blip something for Sprint to really get excited about?

As for the outlook, Sprint said it expects that subscriber losses should improve in 2009 from 2008. The company also expects sequential subscriber improvement.

By the numbers:

  • Post-paid wireless churn in the third quarter was 2.17 percent compared to 2.15 percent a year ago and 2.05 percent in the second quarter. The uptick was due to "seasonality and heightened competition."
  • Prepaid churn---Sprint owns Boost Mobile---was 6.65 percent, down from 8.16 percent a year ago and 6.38 percent in the second quarter.
  • Wireless service revenue in the third quarter was $6.3 billion, down 8 percent from a year ago.
  • Sprint generated free cash flow of $664 million.
  • The company has $5.9 billion in cash, equivalents and investments.

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