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Sprint posts first profit in three years and customer gains


Sprint said Tuesday that it should be able to "strike a deal" in the "near future", driving up shares of the fourth-largest USA wireless carrier.

Sprint's CEO says he expects an announcement will be "coming soon" after the carrier's many discussions about its potential M&A options, which was one of the main topics of analysts' questions on Sprint's first-quarter financial year 2017 earnings call.

Sprint continues to explore merger opportunities with rival carrier, T-Mobile US (NASDAQ: TMUS), and cable provider, Charter Communications.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all posted generally strong quarters last week, and some investors feared those gains may have come at the expense of the nation's smallest wireless carrier, which was the last to report. In its fiscal first quarter, the company also added a net 61,000 new customers, although that was a significant drop-off from a year ago.

"Sprint continued to make progress on its multiyear plan to transform the way it does business and improve its cost structure", Sprint said Tuesday.




Sprint has added 88,000 postpaid phone connections in the quarter, its eighth consecutive quarter of net additions. Next quarter's results will be the real test - is not even a free Sprint service appealing to customers?

"We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint", said Charter spokesman Alex Dudley in the statement.

Under the failed 2014 merger of Comcast (No. 1 USA cable operator) and Time Warner (No. 2), Charter was going to buy Time Warner systems in Ohio and Kentucky, including Greater Cincinnati, Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Analysts had expected a loss of 1 cent per share. But he said that the cost savings and potential benefits of hooking up with another phone company or a cable company would leave Sprint in a better position. In the prior quarter Sprint added 43,000 net postpaid subscribers. Son tried to engineer a merger between the two back in 2013, after SoftBank's $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint, and has recently resumed his pursuit.

The telecom giant, controlled by Japan's SoftBank, reported a net income of $206 million, or 5 cents per share, compared to a loss of $302 million, or 8 cents per share, in 2016. Our skepticism about Sprint's deal-making has nothing to do with Sprint's intrinsic attractiveness; its subscriber base is inherently appealing to anyone wanting scale, and its spectrum trove of 2.5 GHz spectrum really does have incremental value.

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