If there was any doubt in your mind Sprint’s in a whole world of hurt, Friday’s results announcments should lead you to conclude this company is in some serious trouble. For the quarter ending September 30, the wireless carrier lost a staggering 1.3 million customers, all but 200,000 of which were contracted customers.
Just to put that in perspective, thats about two percent of its customer base gone in three months. Since last year at this time, the company has lost about 3.5 million customers, although still remains quite large at 50 million users, of which 83 percent are post-pay.
Losses for the quarter were $324 million, a sharp downturn from the profit of $64 million a year ago. Revenue also fell from $10.1 billion to $8.8 billion. Add this to the fact that it cannot seem to get rid of its iDEN network it acquired from the Nextel acquisition (and has been a part of the company’s financial and customer retention problems), and it does not look good.
Of course, the company is blaming it on the economy. Here’s CEO Dan Hesse in a statement on the quarterly results.
During tough economic times, we tightly managed our business to generate and retain cash and maintain substantial liquidity while continuing to reduce debt. At the same time, we made advancements in improving operations and delivering on the promise of the Now Network.
Pardon me for being contrarian, but if the business was so tightly managed, would you be losing customers like this? Out of all the carriers — even the nortoriously bad “old” AT&T Wireless — Sprint holds the title for the most customers lost in a single quarter.
I also find it somewhat odd Hesse talks about reducing debt when the company is actually adding to it by swinging from a profit (however small it may be) and into the red. You can’t reduce debt while spending money you don’t have.
One positive that the company can take out of this quarter is that nearly one in ten subscribers updated their phones, resulting in new contracts. It also said that it expects stabilization within its subscriber adds this quarter.