Things are looking better at Sprint Nextel, which is in the middle of a long, slow turnaround. The company turned in its lowest overall subscriber loss in several quarters, helped by its Boost Mobile prepaid service and deals to power third-party devices like the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle e-book reader. And this quarter should be even better as the impressive Palm (PALM) Pre rolls out for Sprint and Amazon rolls out a second Kindle for reading newspapers and magazines.
Sprint (S) said it lost 182,000 net subscribers during Q1, better than the 1.3 million sub loss in Q4 and the 1.1 million sub loss during Q1 ’08. That’s a tremendous improvement, led by a big gain in prepaid subscribers on Boost Mobile — which recently rolled out a relatively cheap, unlimited-access plan — and a respectable gain in wholesale and affiliate subscribers, including Amazon Kindle users.
Meanwhile, Sprint lost a large number of “postpaid” subscribers in Q1 — valuable customers that sign long-term contracts. Sprint said 1.25 million of those customers left the service last quarter, worse than the 1.1 million loss in both Q4 and Q1 ’08. Pali Research analyst Walter Piecyk was expecting another quarterly loss around 1.1 million net postpaid subs.
Overall, Sprint’s $8.2 billion in Q1 revenues missed the Street’s $8.3 billion consensus. But adjusted EPS of 3 cents was better than the Street’s expected 5 cent loss. (Sprint still lost $594 million during the quarter.)
Sprint shares are up 8% in pre-market trading.