Technology

Sprint to report latest financial results and year-end customer counts

Promotions helped lure wireless customers into Sprint and other stores during the holidays. Sprint’s latest financial results, to be released Tuesday, will show how it fared over the busy holiday months.
Promotions helped lure wireless customers into Sprint and other stores during the holidays. Sprint’s latest financial results, to be released Tuesday, will show how it fared over the busy holiday months. Bloomberg News

Sprint will release its latest financial results and year-end customer counts Tuesday, showing how it fared in the industry’s traditionally busy holiday season.

The Overland Park-based wireless carrier has been gaining customers for more than a year and ended September with more than 60 million subscribers. That is good only for No. 4 among the four national carriers.

Sprint has been focused on higher-revenue customers, which the industry calls post-paid subscribers who are billed for their service each month rather than required to pay in advance. The most sought-after among them are subscribers who connect a smartphone to wireless networks, rather than a tablet or other device.

Tuesday’s report coincides with the end of a four-day weekend promotion that Sprint announced Friday and aimed at Verizon customers. It offers unlimited data for $50 a month for one line, $90 for two lines and $30 for each additional line. Verizon executives recently held onto their decision, so far, not to offer an unlimited data option.

Sprint still is expected to have gained post-paid phone subscribers in the quarter, but analysts say the company has shifted its marketing effort.

“Despite highly promotional peers, Sprint continued to focus on balancing profitability and sub(scriber) growth,” analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in a mid-January note to clients of Wells Fargo Securities.

Already, T-Mobile US has said it added 933,000 post-paid phone subscribers in October, November and December, expected to be the largest gain among the four carriers. Verizon said it added 167,000 of those high-revenue phone customers.

AT&T said it lost 67,000 post-paid phone subscriptions, but that was fewer than many analysts had expected.

Rivals have been luring away Sprint’s prepaid subscribers, who generate on average a bit more than half as much revenue per month as its post-paid subscribers. Sprint’s prepaid customer count has fallen by more than 13 percent since the start of 2015, and the losses likely continued late last year.

Financially, Sprint has been focused on stabilizing its total revenues and reducing its costs. It reported an operating profit through the first nine months of 2016.

Interest payments on debts and other expenses have left Sprint with a net loss in each of the first three quarters of 2016.

Sprint will report its results at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. The report will cover the third quarter of Sprint’s fiscal year that ends March 31.

Executives plan to discuss the results in a conference call with analysts. To listen, visit Sprint’s website or dial 866-360-1063 about 10 minutes before the scheduled 7:30 a.m. start and provide the ID 47845527.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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