For the past several years, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has endured some difficult financial circumstances which, despite its best efforts, have resulted in continued losses entering the second quarter of 2012. Sprint reported a loss of $863 million in the first quarter of 2012, which comes on the heels of its dismal 2011 that saw it lose a reported $1.3 billion.
As a result of the continued losses sustained by Sprint, its share price dropped from its 52 week high of $6 in June, 2011 all the way down to $2 in December, 2011.
Although it may be easy to discount Sprint as a lost cause with no substantial upside, recent news and the rise in Sprint's customer base have begun to show that it is on the rebound. As a result its share price, after finding its floor during the middle of 2011, has started to rise.
Despite the first quarter losses reported by Sprint, there was also an abundance of good news including a reported 5% rise in growth for the first quarter of 2012. This growth was the result of the additional 1.1 million net new customers that joined the Sprint network in the first quarter of 2012.
This is great news for Sprint as its figures surpassed AT&T (NYSE:T), which reported 736,000 net new customers for the first quarter and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which reported 734,000 net new customers for the same time period.
A significant factor to Sprint's substantial rise in new customers was its entry into the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone market. In October, 2011 Sprint announced that it had entered into a deal with Apple to purchase $20 billion in iPhones over the next 4 years. This deal will result in Sprint owning 30 million iPhone 5s, which it will be able to connect to Sprint's exclusive 4G WiMax network.
The deal, which is estimated to yield profits to Sprint by 2014, is already gaining momentum, as Sprint announced it had activated 1.5 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2012. Of these new activations, approximately 44% were new customer activations, a figure that indicates that Sprint has begun to make significant gains on its competition.
AT&T, the leading seller of iPhone, has reported 4.3 million iPhone activations in the first quarter of 2012, while Verizon activated around 3.3 million iPhones for the same time period.
Although the differential in iPhone sales is still substantial, it is my opinion that Sprint has positioned itself to compete with AT&T and Verizon in the upcoming year and, based on its exclusive deal with Apple, it has positioned itself to make substantial gains on its share price for the remainder of 2012.
Sprint has also continued to make substantial progress on its 2010 announcement to phase out its failing Nextel network that was largely incompatible with the Sprint network. This phase out, which is expected to begin in 2013 and will be completed by 2015, is projected to save Sprint $10-11 billion in seven years.
With the increase in revenue and its ability to shed the Nextel brand that has contributed significantly to Sprint's losses since it was purchased for $36 billion, Sprint should be able to continue to make substantial gains in the domestic and foreign market.
Sprint's ability to further its influence in Asian countries such as China and India should also contribute to heavier profit margins in the upcoming year.
In 2011 it was reported that China had reached 900 million cell phone users including an 11 million rise in April, 2011 alone. Sprint's presence in China should be further bolstered by the recent deal it reached with China Telecom. This deal will allow Chinese customers, who subscribe to the Sprint network, to also access the China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) network that covers over 200 Chinese cities.
With the expanded coverage, and the rising appeal of smart phones in China that is expected to command a 50% market share by 2013, Sprint's position in China should in my opinion see substantial growth for the remainder of 2012, a growth that will result in share prices tripling in value when 2012 financial reports are released.
Not to be discounted in the growing cell phone market, is the rise in the Indian market that reported 811 million cell phone users at the end of 2011.
Sprint has acknowledged the rising potential in India when it announced in 2011 that it had formed a partnership with Telecom India where Sprint would command a 76% ownership. This deal has placed Sprint in competition with Singtel, AT&T, Verizon, BT (NYSE:BT) and Cable & Wireless [CW.L] who are all vying for a growing share of the Indian market.
With Sprint's recent growth, the shedding of toxic assets and its advancement into the booming Asian cell phone market, it is my opinion that Sprint holds a tremendous upside for the remainder of 2012 and beyond. Considering the massive revenue potential of this technology giant, investors are witnessing a floor to Sprint's share price that will not be seen again, as Sprint will continue to make substantial progress on regaining a form that saw its share price reach a five year high of $25 in 2008.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.