Sprint/Nextel: The Next Data Wireless Kings?

May. 1.07 | About: Sprint Corporation (S)

As a lifelong Sprint (NYSE:S) subscriber, I’ve always felt like I was on the short end of the stick. Their customer service is far from acceptable, signal comes and goes and coverage is limited to rooftops and buildings with paper walls. However, the light at the end of the tunnel could be bright. Due to Sprint’s Sprint Employee Referral Offer [SERO], a Blackberry can be had for $150 and $30/month plan (which includes nights starting at 7pm, 500 anytime and the kicker — unlimited data). If you’re not a Research in Motion (RIMM) Blackberry fan, you can get the Motorola (MOT) Q for $100 as well. The data plan is part of the Power Vision that comes with the plan which basically gives unlimited web, email and IM.

The procedure is pretty simple:
1) Go to http://sprint.com/sero
2) Type in ’savings@sprint.com’ in the employee referral section and put in your ZIP code
3) Select a phone and a plan
4) Checkout


Although Sprint is nowhere near its $70/share days in the late 90s, it has stayed relatively level in the past couple of months. If throwing out EV-DO data plans for $30/month is anything like I’m guessing, it could spark a revolution across the board with carriers. However, if Sprint keeps it up, they could emerge to be the data wireless kings. Especially with talk of features like free GPS in data. Bill Nygren at Oakmark Fund posts further reason for buying up Sprint:

We bought shares of Sprint-Nextel (S), the country’s third largest wireless telephony provider. Delays in integrating Sprint’s 2004 acquisition of Nextel have led to disappointing operating profits. Sprints stock price reflected that, falling from the mid-$20s to a first quarter low of under $17. During that time, other telecommunication stocks increased, resulting in Sprint now being priced at a lower multiple of cash-flow than competitors who get most of their income from the declining wired telephony business. Further, if Sprint’s subscribers were valued similarly to recent wireless acquisitions, Sprint stock would nearly double from its low. As with many of our holdings, we believe management will either improve operations or the company will be acquired.

Due to buzz about things like the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, Samsung Blackjack, Motorola Q and the omnipresent RIM Blackberry, the guys with the biggest broadband network and the best broadband service will probably end up coming out the strongest. There is definitely some serious corporate restructuring that has come into play in recent history, including cutting 5,000 jobs at the beginning of the year after losing 300,000 subscribers [USA Today]. Despite this, Sprint isn’t skimping on R&D and expansion of its WiMax — with upwards of $1 billion planned for this year and around $2 billion for next, they show a lot of promise in staying at the forefront [IT Business Edge].

Imagine: mobile video conferencing, watching digital signals with unscathed clarity and further delineating the bounds of ‘the office’. Even though Verizon and Cingular may be dominating the market, Sprint is still in the race with number 3. Now it just needs to pull itself together with customer loyalty, make headway on exclusivity with the next RAZR/iPhone/buzz phone and make incentive offers like the aforementioned more accessible. However, as far as technology goes, they’re ahead of the game and already releasing scale in big cities. The call on this one is pretty clear — go long.

Disclosure: The author has a long position in S.