Sprint announces Q4 2011 results, adds Baltimore and Kansas City to list of 4G LTE markets

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: February 8, 2012

Sprint logo

Sprint is the next carrier in line to announce its Q4 2011 results, revealing its figures this morning. The final quarter of 2011 brought with it Sprint's best subscriber growth since 2005, with the carrier adding 1.6 million total net subs during Q4. At then end of 2011, Sprint says that it served a total of more than 55 million customers, a number that includes 33 million postpaid users, 14.8 million prepaid subs and around 7.2 million wholesale and affiliate customers. Sprint also revealed that it moved a total of 1.8 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, 40 percent of which were to new customers. On the cash front, Sprint says that it finished Q4 2011 with net operating revenues of $8.7 billion and a net loss of $1.3 billion.

In addition to its Q4 2011 results, Sprint also announced that it has added Baltimore and Kansas City to the list of cities expected to receive access to its 4G LTE network by mid-2012. Sprint has already said that Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will be lit up with its 4G LTE by the middle of the year. Along with LTE service, both Baltimore and Kansas City will be receiving upgraded 3G coverage by mid-2012.

Overall it looks like Sprint had a decent mix of good and bad news at the end of Q4, reporting a $1.3 billion net loss but also bringing in 1.6 million new subs and moving a ton of iPhones. On the 4G LTE front, it's good to see Sprint continue to add cities to its initial LTE rollout, though it's worth noting that we still don't know exactly when the launch of the network will be going down. At least Sprint customers in those markets can celebrate the fact that they'll be getting a taste of their carrier's LTE before most other people, I suppose. We've got the press releases announcing Sprint's Q4 2011 results and its 4G LTE news down below.

Sprint Nextel Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Results

Quarterly year-over-year Sprint platform postpaid ARPU growth of $3.69 is the best on record in the industry

Largest sequential increase in net operating revenues in more than five years

Sprint serves more than 55 million customers – highest level ever

1.6 million total net subscriber additions in the quarter – best since 2005

539,000 postpaid net additions on the Sprint platform in the quarter

Strong iPhone sales – 40 percent to new customers

Network Vision on schedule and on budget; six major cities to launch 4G LTE by mid-year with the addition of Kansas City and Baltimore

Adjusted OIBDA* of $842 million and the first year of Operating Income since 2006

The company’s fourth quarter 2011 earnings conference call will be held at 8 a.m. ET today. Participants may dial 800-938-1120 in the U.S. or Canada (706-634-7849 internationally) and provide the following ID: 40556064 or may listen via the Internet at www.sprint.com/investor.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), February 08, 2012 - Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) today reported Adjusted OIBDA* of $842 million for the fourth quarter and nearly $5.1 billion for the full year 2011. Wireless service revenues for the fourth quarter increased more than 7 percent year-over-year, driven by Sprint platform postpaid ARPU growth of $3.69 – the largest year-over-year increase on record across the U.S. wireless industry. Strong revenue growth and cost management partially offset the impact of increased equipment net subsidies and sales expense associated with the successful launch of the iPhone®. Forty percent of Sprint’s 1.8 million iPhone sales in the fourth quarter were to new customers. Based on internal estimates, including incremental costs associated with iPhone sales, the combined impact of iPhone and Network Vision costs reduced fourth quarter Adjusted OIBDA* margin, which was 10.8 percent, by approximately 8.8 percentage points.

The company reported total net subscriber additions of 1.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2011 – the best quarterly result in six years – bringing total ending subscribers to the highest level in the company’s history. Total postpaid net additions of 161,000 for the fourth quarter represent the tenth consecutive quarter of year-over-year improvement and were driven by continued strength of the Sprint platform, which had net postpaid additions of 539,000. This is the seventh consecutive quarter of net postpaid subscriber growth on the Sprint platform.

“Our strong fourth quarter performance illustrates the power of matching iconic devices like the iPhone with our simple, unlimited plans and industry-leading customer experience,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “During the past year, Sprint added more than 5 million net new customers and grew wireless service revenue by more than 5 percent, including 17 percent for the Sprint platform. This momentum gives us confidence as we execute our Network Vision upgrade and 4G LTE roll-out.”

The company continued to rapidly grow the number of prepaid and wholesale and affiliate subscribers in the fourth quarter. Prepaid net additions were 507,000 bringing total prepaid subscribers to nearly 14.8 million at the end of 2011, an increase of 20 percent since the end of 2010. Net additions of 954,000 for wholesale and affiliates in the fourth quarter were the highest in seven years.

Additionally, the company reported a net loss of $1.3 billion and a diluted loss of $.43 per share for the quarter, which includes pre-tax, non-cash charges of $241 million, or $.08 per share, consisting of asset and impairment charges of $78 million on property, plant and equipment, $135 million on Sprint’s investment in Clearwire and $28 million in severance costs.

Sprint’s Network Vision initiative remains on schedule and on budget. In the fourth quarter, the company completed field integration testing and launched the first multi-mode base station and first cluster of cell sites, validating improved 3G data performance metrics, such as voice quality, call drops and blocks and improved data speeds. The company expects to bring approximately 12,000 sites on air by the end of 2012 and to complete the majority of its Network Vision roll-out in 2013. In addition, as part of Network Vision Sprint has announced it expects to begin launching 4G LTE by mid-year 2012. In addition to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Atlanta, Sprint today announced Kansas City and Baltimore will be among the initial six major cities to launch.

The company also raised a substantial portion of the additional cash needed to fund the Network Vision deployment, debt maturities and working capital requirements over the next few years. During the fourth quarter, Sprint raised additional financing of $4 billion and repaid all 2012 maturities prior to scheduled maturity. Sprint’s next scheduled debt maturities include $300 million due in May 2013 and $1.5 billion due in October 2013.

Sprint generated $257 million of Free Cash Flow* in the quarter. As of Dec. 31, 2011, the company’s total liquidity was approximately $6.7 billion, consisting of $5.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and $1.1 billion of undrawn borrowing capacity available under its revolving bank credit facility.

In 2011, Sprint’s Customer Satisfaction and First Call Resolution scores improved year-over-year for the fourth consecutive year and third parties continued to affirm Sprint’s customer experience leadership. In the fourth quarter, Frost & Sullivan awarded Sprint the North American Customer Value Enhancement of the Year Award in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communications market, and Analysys Mason gave Sprint the highest M2M scorecard ranking among North American-based communications service providers. Last month, Sprint received the ATLANTIC ACM Best-in-Class Network Award for Global Wholesale Excellence. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine’s annual 2011 Best of Everything list awarded top honors to Sprint’s unlimited data plan, no annual contract offerings from Boost Mobile and payLo by Virgin Mobile. Last week, Virgin Mobile USA received the highest ranking in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Study – Volume 1, with Boost placing second. Sprint’s sustainable efforts also continued to gather accolades. Following Sprint’s third place ranking among U.S. companies on Newsweek’s 2011 Green Rankings in October, Sprint joined the exclusive World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers Program – one of only 27 global partners selected since 1999.

Besides adding the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s to the company’s industry-leading line-up of devices, Sprint also launched several other innovative products during the fourth quarter including HTC EVO Design 4G™, the company’s 25th 4G device. Sprint also launched the first three Sprint Direct Connect® phones, Kyocera DuraMax, Kyocera DuraCore and Motorola Admiral™, the first Sprint Direct Connect Android™ smartphone. Earlier this year, Sprint announced the initial group of devices that will operate on its 4G LTE network: Galaxy Nexus™, LG Viper™ 4G LTE with eco-friendly features and Sierra Wireless™ Tri-Network Hotspot. Also during the fourth quarter, Sprint unveiled a redesigned website for business, www.sprint.com/business, launched 4G Fixed Business Access, a business solution that turns any area into an instant office, and collaborated on M2M solutions including wireless kiosks to capture health and wellness information remotely.


Baltimore and Kansas City Sprint Customers to Benefit from 4G LTE and 3G Enhancements in 2012

Sprint adds to the list of cities to benefit from new and improved network technology by mid-year

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), February 08, 2012 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced that Baltimore and Kansas City are expected to receive 4G LTE and upgraded 3G service by mid-2012. Sprint recently announced that 4G LTE and enhanced 3G service are also expected by mid-2012 in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Sprint 4G LTE will enable faster speeds for data applications, and the enhanced 3G service promises better signal strength, faster data speeds, expanded coverage and better in-building performance.

The launch of these large metropolitan areas demonstrates the continued commitment by Sprint to invest in its network through Network Vision. Sprint customers in these areas will soon enjoy ultra-fast data speeds and improved 3G voice quality. Whether a Sprint customer is using a smartphone to share a video of a double overtime game between the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers or a Baltimore chef is checking the Web via a mobile hotspot for a new way to serve crabcakes, Sprint 4G LTE will make it easier. And, when someone makes an important voice call, they can expect to find a clearer connection and a stronger signal in more areas.

“Sprint is investing in its CDMA network and delivering on our commitment to ensure customers experience superior wireless voice and data service at an unbeatable value,” said Bob Azzi, Sprint senior vice president-Network. “We continue to deploy multi-mode base stations across Sprint’s nationwide cell sites and are expecting improvements in voice quality, signal density and data speeds. Today’s good news demonstrates the phenomenal progress that our teams are making toward implementing this new technology.”

The initial devices already announced to run on 4G LTE will be Galaxy Nexus™, boasting a pure Google™ experience, LG Viper™ 4G LTE with eco-friendly features, and Sierra Wireless™ Tri-Network Hotspot, a 3G, 4G and 4G LTE mobile hotspot. More information is available at www.sprint.com/4glte.

Sprint has been a 4G innovator since first launching the technology in 2008. Sprint has launched more than 25 4G-enabled smartphones, USB connection cards, notebook/netbook products, mobile hotspots and routers. Sprint offers a proven, reliable 4G experience for millions of customers compared to other national wireless carriers. Additionally, Sprint is a leader in value, with Sprint Everything plans with Any Mobile, AnytimeSM, including unlimited data, texting and calling to and from any mobile phone in America while on the Sprint network. With Sprint’s unlimited data plans, customers don’t have to worry about throttling or data overage charges on their monthly bill as they might with tiered data plans from other carriers.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 55 million customers at the end of 2011 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in its 2011 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.