OVERLAND PARK, Kan.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) today reported operating results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, including the lowest postpaid phone churn in company history at 1.39 percent and a total liquidity position of nearly $11 billion. The company also reported total net operating revenues of $8 billion, net loss of $302 million, operating income of $361 million, and Adjusted EBITDA* of $2.5 billion.
“We had another quarter of solid progress in our turnaround with the highest first quarter postpaid phone net additions in nine years1, the lowest postpaid phone churn in company history, and finally being postpaid net port positive against all three national carriers after five years” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. “We also grew wireless net operating revenue year-over-year while aggressively reducing the cash operating expenses of the business and our network is performing better than ever.”
Highest Fiscal First Quarter Postpaid Phone Net Additions in Nine Years1
Sprint’s focus on delivering the best value proposition in wireless resulted in the highest fiscal first quarter postpaid phone net additions in nine years and the fourth consecutive quarter of positive net additions with 173,000 in the quarter compared to net losses of 12,000 in the prior year quarter. The 185,000 year-over-year improvement was driven by both better acquisition and retention, as postpaid phone gross additions were up 10 percent year-over-year and postpaid phone churn of 1.39 percent improved 10 basis points to reach the lowest level in company history. Postpaid phone churn has improved year-over-year for six consecutive quarters.
The company recently launched an advertising campaign featuring Paul Marcarelli, the actor who used to ask if you “could hear me now” for Verizon, to highlight the fact that networks today aren’t that different so why should customers pay more. The campaign has been one of the most successful in company history. The ad has been viewed over 8 million times on YouTube and the company became postpaid net port positive against all three national carriers for the first time in over five years. Can you hear that?
The company also reported the following Sprint platform results:
- Total net additions were 377,000 in the quarter, including postpaid net additions of 180,000, prepaid net losses of 331,000, and wholesale and affiliate net additions of 528,000.
- Total postpaid churn of 1.56 percent in the quarter was flat year-over-year.
Top Line Stabilizes as Cost Reductions Continue
With trends improving in its postpaid phone business, Sprint reported total net operating revenues that were flat to the prior year quarter for the first time in over two years. In addition, wireless net operating revenues grew 1 percent year-over-year and postpaid wireless service revenues have remained at $4.8 billion for the last three quarters.
Sprint also made considerable progress in its ongoing effort to transform the cost structure of the business, as the company realized over $550 million year-over-year reduction in cost of services and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses. The company remains on track to achieve its goal of a sustainable reduction of $2 billion or more of run rate operating expenses exiting fiscal year 2016.
The company also reported the following financial results:
- Net loss of $302 million, or $0.08 per share, in the quarter compared to a net loss of $20 million, or $0.01 per share in the year-ago period. The current quarter included $113 million of non-recurring contract termination charges primarily related to the termination of the pre-existing wholesale arrangement with Ntelos Holding Corp.
- Operating income of $361 million in the quarter compared to operating income of $501 million in the year-ago quarter. Adjusting for the aforementioned contract termination charges related to the pre-existing wholesale arrangement with Ntelos Holding Corp. in the current quarter, operating income would have been relatively flat year-over-year.
- Adjusted EBITDA* of $2.5 billion in the quarter grew 18 percent from the prior year period, primarily because of expense reductions, including over $550 million in cost of services and SG&A expenses.
- Net cash provided by operating activities was $542 million in the quarter compared to $128 million in the prior year. The $414 million year-over-year improvement was driven by expense reductions and favorable changes to working capital.
- Adjusted free cash flow* was positive $466 million in the quarter compared to negative $2.2 billion in the prior year. The $2.7 billion year-over-year improvement was due to expense reductions, lower capital spending, and net proceeds from our second transaction with MLS.
Liquidity Position Grows to Nearly $11 Billion
Sprint took several actions during the quarter to improve its financial flexibility, including successfully raising $2.2 billion of network-related financing, $1.1 billion from a second transaction with MLS, and $2.5 billion under a new unsecured financing facility, which was increased from its original $2 billion amount within the quarter. These transactions helped increase the company’s liquidity position to nearly $11 billion at the end of the quarter, including $5.1 billion of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. Additionally, the company has $1.1 billion of availability under vendor financing agreements that can be used toward the purchase of 2.5GHz network equipment.
The company continues to pursue additional financing initiatives, including additional handset and receivables financing transactions and a securitization involving a small portion of its spectrum assets.
LTE Plus Network Expansion Contributes to Speed and Reliability Performance
Sprint aims to unlock the value of the U.S.’s largest spectrum holding by densifying and optimizing its network to provide customers the best experience. The Sprint LTE Plus Network, which combines a rich tri-band spectrum portfolio with the LTE Advanced features of carrier aggregation and antenna beamforming, launched in 33 additional markets, increasing the total to 237 markets across the country.
Sprint’s LTE Plus Network expansion and its densification and optimization strategy have driven significant improvements in both data speeds and network reliability as noted by several third party sources.
- Sprint’s LTE Plus Network continued to outperform Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile by delivering the fastest LTE download speeds based on recent crowd-sourced data from Nielsen.2 Additionally, Sprint’s reliability beat T-Mobile and performed within 1 percent of AT&T and Verizon.3
- Independent mobile analytics firm RootMetrics® awarded Sprint 75 percent more first place Network Reliability RootScore® Awards (from 24 to 42) in the 125 markets measured in the first half of 2016 compared to the prior testing period, including wins in Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta.4
- Sprint’s reliability beat Verizon and its average download speeds beat AT&T and T-Mobile, according to PC Magazine’s Fastest Mobile Networks 2016 report.
Sprint’s deployment of 2.5GHz spectrum has become an integral part of how the company meets the growing data usage and speed demands of its customers, as that spectrum band now carries the highest percentage of Sprint’s LTE data traffic.
Fiscal Year 2016 Outlook
The company continues to expect:
- Operating income of $1 billion to $1.5 billion
- Adjusted EBITDA* of $9.5 billion to $10 billion
- Cash capital expenditures, excluding devices leased through indirect channels, of approximately $3 billion
- Adjusted free cash flow* around break-even
(a) ARPU is calculated by dividing service revenue by the sum of the monthly average number of connections in the applicable service category. Changes in average monthly service revenue reflect connections for either the postpaid or prepaid service category who change rate plans, the level of voice and data usage, the amount of service credits which are offered to connections, plus the net effect of average monthly revenue generated by new connections and deactivating connections. Sprint platform postpaid phone ARPU represents revenues related to our postpaid phone connections.
(b) Sprint platform postpaid ABPA* is calculated by dividing service revenue earned from connections plus installment plan billings and lease revenue by the sum of the monthly average number of accounts during the period.
(c) Sprint platform postpaid phone ABPU* is calculated by dividing postpaid phone service revenue earned from postpaid phone connections plus installment plan billings and lease revenue by the sum of the monthly average number of postpaid phone connections during the period.
(d) As part of the transaction involving Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel), 186,000 and 92,000 subscribers were transferred from postpaid and prepaid, respectively, to affiliates and an additional 270,000 subscribers were acquired from Shentel, which were acquired from their purchase of nTelos.
**Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current period presentation.