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Sprint Q3 Wireless Operating Loss Grows

Overland Park, Kan. — Operating losses in Sprint’s wireless business grew in the third quarter compared with the year-ago period but shrank on a sequential and year-to-date basis.

Wireless revenues were flat in the quarter compared with the year ago and up only 1 percent for the year to date.

During the quarter, Sprint sold almost 5 million smartphones, nearly 1.4 million of which were iPhones. The iPhone count is down from the year-ago 1.5 million.

The wireless operation posted a $355 million operating loss in the third quarter, up 26.3 percent from a year-ago loss of $281 million but down from the second quarter’s $864 million. For the nine-month period, operating losses shrank 5.8 percent to $1.22 billion from the year-ago $1.29 billion.

Wireless operating revenues were essentially flat in the quarter at $8.02 billion compared with the year-ago $8.04 billion, but revenues were up 1 percent for the year to date to $24.3 billion.

The carrier lost a total of 313,000 subscribers in the quarter and 2.76 million for the year to date, mainly due to the Nextel iDEN network shutdown. The carrier, however, also lost 95,000 Sprint-network subscribers in the quarter. The 95,000 decline was due to the loss of 360,000 Sprint-platform retail postpaid subscribers combined with a gain of 84,000 net new Sprint-network prepaid subscribers and a gain of 181,000 wholesale and affiliate Sprint-network subscribers.

For the year to date, Sprint-network postpaid subscriber losses came to 154,000 compared with a year-ago gain of 1.12 million.

Sprint-network retail prepaid subscriptions were up by 166,000 for the year to date, and wholesale and affiliate subscriptions were down by 271,000.

At the end of September, the carrier’s subscriber base shrank to 54.9 million from a year-ago 56 million.

On a consolidated basis incorporating Sprint’s wireless and wireline operations, Sprint turned a net profit in the quarter of $383 million compared with a year-ago loss of $767 million. Year-to-date losses were $1.98 billion, down from the year-ago $3 billion net loss.

The third-quarter financial report represents the first quarter of operations following Sprint’s acquisition of Clearwire and SoftBank’s acquisition of a majority stake in Sprint.

Sprint posted wireless operating losses in 2008 through 2012, with 2012 losses at $2.1 billion, 2011 losses at $256 million, 2010 losses at $1.23 billion, 2009 losses of $1.96 billion, and 2008 losses of $2.8 billion.