Sprint increased CEO Hesse’s compensation 31 percent last year

Sprint Nextel Corp. boosted chief executive officer Dan Hesse’s compensation 31 percent last year even as the Overland Park wireless carrier 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 with $9.07 million in 2010, according to a regulatory filing. 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 iPhone from its 2011 bonus calculations for eligible employees. The nation’s third-largest wireless carrier reported widening losses last quarter — its first offering the iPhone — but the company had signaled that early iPhone costs would hurt the bottom line. Sprint has said it may not turn a profit on the device for several years.

The company sold 1.8 million iPhones in the period, fewer than some analysts projected and trailing larger rivals AT 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.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.