Sprint Fails To Wow Investors Despite Some Gains

Sprint (NYSE: S) had good things to say about in the third quarter: It added more subscribers than it had since 2006, and reported its first quarterly revenue increase in three years. But its loss widened, and was greater than analysts had projected, leading to its shares tumbling in early morning trading. Sprint’s stock was down at least by 8 percent, or 40 cents, to trade at $4.37 a share.

Sprint lost $911 million, or 30 cents a share in the quarter, which is much worse than the $478 million, or 17 cents per share loss from a year earlier. Analysts were expected a loss of 28 cents a share, Bloomberg reports.

While most of the company’s loss was attributable to tax effects, it actually suffered from adding 644,000 new subscribers because they are given heavily subsidized phones that can cost Sprint hundreds of dollars over the life of a two-year contract. Demand was particularly strong for smartphones, like the Samsung Epic 4G and the HTC EVO 4G, which both leverage Sprint’s partnership with Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR). The third quarter marked the the fourth consecutive period of adding overall subscribers for the carrier, which has spent the past two years rebuilding its reputation and brand identity.

Sprint said operating revenues totaled $8.2 billion, increasing 1 percent compared to the year-ago period when revenues totaled $8 billion.

Other figures:

Nextel losses: Its Nextel network continues to lose subscribers. In the quarter, the company gained a net 471,000 prepaid subscribers, which includes net additions of almost 1.2 million prepaid CDMA customers, offset by net losses of 700,000 prepaid iDEN customers.

Overall subscriber figures: In all, the company has 48.8 million. This breaks down as: 33.1 million postpaid subscribers (26.6 million via CDMA, 6.1 million on iDEN, and 440,000 who use both), 11.6 million prepaid subscribers (7.1 million on CDMA and 4.5 million on iDEN) and about 4.1 million wholesale and affiliate subscribers on CDMA network.

Prepaid focus: Its various prepaid brands, like Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM), continued to boost additions.

Release | Webcast.