Sprint’s Hesse gets 31 percent pay boost as Overland Park carrier’s losses continue

Sprint Nextel Corp. the third- largest U.S. wireless carrier, boosted Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse’s compensation 31 percent last year as the company reported its fifth straight annual loss.

Hesse received compensation valued at $11.9 million in 2011, when the company’s shares tumbled 45 percent. That compared to $9.07 million in 2010, according to a regulatory filing today. The executive also received stock awards worth $3.22 million and non-equity incentive plan compensation of $4.84 million.

Sprint last month said it excluded the cost of the Apple Inc. IPhone from its 2011 bonus calculations for eligible employees. The Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier reported widening losses last quarter – its first offering the IPhone – signaling the best-selling device may not be helping Hesse turn around the business.

The company sold 1.8 million iPhones in the period, fewer than some analysts projected and trailing larger rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless. The device also ate into Sprint’s margins by boosting its subsidy expenses by about 40 percent.

Sprint and competitors sell the iPhone at a loss to get consumers to sign up for multiyear contracts.

In the fourth quarter, Sprint’s net loss widened to $1.3 billion, or 43 cents a share, from $929 million, or 31 cents, a year earlier.

Sprint rose 4.4 percent to $2.86 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 22 percent this year.