Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sprint Nextel Posts Q2 Revenue of $9.1 Billion, Trims CAPEX

Sprint Nextel reported Q2 revenues of $9.1 billion and a diluted loss per share of 12 cents.

"We are seeing signs of progress from our efforts to improve the customer experience, rebuild the Sprint brand and increase our profitability," said Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel CEO. "Our company-wide retention efforts, which include Simply Everything plans, our Now Network campaign and the launch of the Instinct handset are proving to be effective retention tools, particularly for high-value customers, and this is beginning to have positive impacts on churn and ARPU. Our sequential improvement in post-paid churn is the best reported by any national wireless carrier since 2004, and it equals Sprint's best-ever churn performance post-merger."

The company is cutting its CAPEX, trimming external labor costs, and streamlining distribution channels to improve its bottom line.

Some highlights for the period:

  • Capital investments of $646 million were made in the second quarter. These investments were 61% lower than a year ago, due primarily to reduced spending in the Wireless segment. The company recorded approximately $100 million in capital expenditures related to the deployment of WiMAX.

  • Net debt at the end of the period was $19.5 billion, consisting of total debt of $23 billion, offset by cash and marketable securities of $3.5 billion. The company used $1.3 billion in cash in the second quarter to retire all of the 6.125% Senior Notes due in November 2008.

  • The company served 51.9 million wireless customers at the end of Q2, compared to 54.0 million at the end of the second quarter of 2007.

  • For the quarter, total wireless customers declined by 901,000, including losses of 776,000 post-paid customers and 250,000 traditional prepaid users, partially offset by gains of 112,000 Boost Unlimited customers and a 13,000 increase in the number of wholesale and affiliate subscribers.

  • At the end of the second quarter, the company served 38.9 million post-paid subscribers, 4.2 million prepaid subscribers and 8.7 million wholesale and affiliate subscribers.

  • Subscribers by network platform include 35.5 million on CDMA, 14.6 million on iDEN and 1.7 million PowerSource users who utilize both networks.

  • Wireless post-paid churn of just under 2.0% improved by over 45 basis points sequentially and was in line with the year-ago period. The improvement reflects a sequential decline in the number of deactivations among both CDMA and iDEN subscribers.

  • The company reported significant sequential improvements to voluntary and involuntary churn, while the year-over-year metrics were unchanged. Involuntary churn benefited from a better credit mix and seasonality. Voluntary churn benefited from the company-wide focus on improving the customer experience, retention initiatives, strong customer response to Simply Everything and better performance in customer care.

  • For the quarter, the churn rate for CDMA subscribers was slightly below the average post-paid churn rate and iDEN was modestly higher.

  • Boost churn in the second quarter was 7.4%, compared to 9.9% in the first quarter of 2008 due to lower churn for traditional Boost pay-as-you-go subscribers, slightly offset by higher churn for Boost Unlimited.

  • Wireless service revenues of $7.0 billion declined 11% year-over-year and 2% sequentially. The year-over-year decline was due to lower ARPU and fewer subscribers, while the sequential decline was due to fewer wireless subscribers. Wholesale, affiliate, and other service revenues were flat sequentially and were down compared to the year-ago period due to the mix of wholesale customers.

  • Wireless post-paid ARPU in the quarter was stable at $56 as compared to the first quarter 2008 due to improved retention of higher revenue subscribers and a more favorable impact from rate plan migrations. Wireless post-paid ARPU declined by 7% compared to the year-ago period reflecting continued pressure on access and overage revenues, partially offset by data revenue growth. CDMA ARPU was slightly higher than the post-paid average, while iDEN ARPU was modestly lower.

  • Data revenues contributed more than $12 to overall post-paid ARPU in the second quarter, led by growth in CDMA data ARPU. CDMA data ARPU increased nearly $1 from the first quarter, to more than $15, and now accounts for approximately 27% of total CDMA ARPU. The increase was driven by strong take rates on bundled data services, such as those included with Simply Everything, as well as continued growth in data cards.

  • Prepaid ARPU in the quarter was approximately $30 compared to $31 in the year-ago period and $29 in the first quarter of 2008. The sequential increase reflects a growing contribution from Boost Unlimited subscribers, while ARPU of traditional prepaid users did not change significantly from first quarter levels.

  • Wireless equipment revenues of $479 million declined on a sequential and year-over-year basis primarily due to lower handset sales volumes and increases in rebates.

  • Wireless capital investments were $393 million in the second quarter, significantly lower than $918 million spent in the first quarter of 2008 and $1.4 billion spent in the second quarter of 2007. This trend reflects reduced spending on several key projects, including: EVDO-Rev A network expansion, the development of Nextel Direct Connect on CDMA, and the company's Unified Billing Platform. Capital investments in the quarter were primarily targeted at increasing capacity within existing wireless coverage areas and maintaining network quality. In the quarter, dropped and blocked calls declined at a double-digit rate on both the CDMA and iDEN networks, compared to one year ago.

  • Wireline revenues of $1.6 billion were slightly lower sequentially and year-over-year as legacy voice and data declines exceeded Internet revenue growth.

  • Internet revenues increased 42% from the year-ago period and 6% sequentially due to strong demand for Global MPLS services from Enterprise customers and the increasing base of cable subscribers which utilize our VoIP services. Internet revenues as a percent of Wireline revenue have increased from 23% to 33% year-over-year. At the end of the second quarter, the company supported nearly 4 million users of cable partner VoIP services. These services are now available to more than 30 million MSO households.

  • Legacy voice revenues declined 5% sequentially and 14% year-over-year. Retail business voice services declined by 10% compared to the first quarter, but the declines in wholesale, inter-company and consumer revenues were significantly more moderate.

  • Legacy data revenues are being impacted in part by customer transitions to IP services. These legacy services declined 19% compared to the second quarter of 2007 and 6% quarter-over-quarter.