Yesterday, 7:23 PM
- Wells Fargo has picked its winners in March's FCC broadcast incentive auction for wireless spectrum -- and it figures AT&T (T +0.2%) will dominate bidding that should total $30B-$35B.
- Analysts at the bank predict up to $10B spending coming from the telecom giant for a nationwide block of 2x10 MHz airwaves.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -3.7%) -- which has been signaling aggressive moves in the auction -- will be second, with $8B spent, the analysts said, while Verizon (VZ -0.6%) should be last with $5B in bids. Sprint (S -1.8%) has already said it's sitting this one out.
- While AT&T backtracked a bit on pledges to spend $9B while it was digesting DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), the analysts think the benefits of a nationwide block may signal higher spending from the company.
- Verizon, meanwhile, has credit to spend up to $10B, but probably won't: "Similar to what T has said publicly and based on our conversations with spectrum experts, we look for VZ to contribute in a meaningful way if 2x10MHz bands are made available."
- Previously: T-Mobile -2.2% as it pledges $200 for each Sprint line that switches (Nov. 25 2015)
- Previously: SoftBank spending: Arora on investment universe, Sprint worries (Nov. 24 2015)
Yesterday, 10:20 AM
- It's been nearly straight down out of the open for T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), down 2.2% after it announced a special "holiday gift" for Sprint (S -0.5%) customers: $200 to switch carriers.
- That's on top of the up to $650 T-Mobile is offering to cover early termination fees and phone payment balances, and it's $200 for each line switched.
- "I cannot think of any wireless customers in more desperate need of some holiday cheer than those Sprint customers still hanging on over there," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "Those poor people have put up with the nation's slowest and smallest LTE network, and their carrier throwing out a deal-of-the-month for everyone except them."
- The deal includes switching any Sprint number (postpaid, prepaid, Boost or Virgin Mobile) to a T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid plan. It's effective starting Thursday.
- Legere promised additional "gifts" coming to Verizon and AT&T customers over the next few weeks.
Tue, Nov. 24, 7:52 PM
- SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY -1.6%) last month declared a plan to spread "several billions" each year in investments around the world, all set to be managed by president (and likely successor to Chairman Masayoshi Son) Nikesh Arora -- who certainly seems to prefer options in India over pouring more money into struggling Sprint (S +0.9%).
- In an interview with Bloomberg on his strategy, Arora says that while they're focusing on later-stage startups with proven products, there's "money to be made in any stage, as long as you identify the right company."
- While there are some 150 companies valued over $1B, Arora says there are about 1,000 companies over $500M: "That’s our universe. We believe with 1,000 companies we can interpret this universe and understand it with limited resources."
- He says the best thing they can offer startups is "operational insights," rather than investment strategy or fund-raising help.
- As for SoftBank trading at a discount to public assets: "There are three things that people worry about. One is what’s going to happen to Sprint. Two is what’s going on in China. And three is I hope Masa won’t do another Sprint." But as for Sprint, "Masa is unrelenting. He is working with [Sprint managers] almost every night for a few hours, 10 p.m. calls, or in the morning."
- Previously: SoftBank planning "several billions" in annual global investment (Oct. 22 2015)
- Previously: Sprint to target 'bloated' structure with $2.5B in cost cuts (Oct. 09 2015)
Mon, Nov. 23, 4:31 PM
- Sprint (S -1.2%) has hired Jorge Gracia as senior VP and general counsel, effective Jan. 2.
- He'll replace Charles Wunsch, who's held that spot since 2008, and report to CEO Marcelo Claure.
- Gracia was most recently general counsel at Samsung Electronics America, having joined there in 2013 after 17 years at Alcatel-Lucent. He has 25 years of experience in international corporate law.
Fri, Nov. 20, 8:00 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) -5% premarket following the announcement of $1.2B sale-leaseback plan.
- Under the plan, a group of investors including Sprint (S) majority owner Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCPK:SFTBY) will create a $1.2B into an entity to purchase the devices Sprint leases to customers.
- Sprint will then lease back the devices from the new venture, giving it fresh funding "at an attractive cost of capital which is well below Sprint's alternatives in the high-yield debt market."
- "Providing mobile devices to customers is the biggest use of cash in the carrier model, and with this new structure we have more closely aligned Sprint's cash flows with those associated with leasing devices to our customers," CFO Tarek Robbiati says.
- The move will boost free cash flow, but reduce 2015 Ebitda by ~$400M.
- Related: Sprint: Cost Cutting Is A Sign Of Desperation (Oct. 9)
Wed, Nov. 18, 11:54 AM
- Sprint's countdown is over, and its latest promotional pricing in a fierce wireless war looks a lot like its move last December.
- Back then, Sprint (NYSE:S) pushed "Cut Your Bill in Half." Now Sprint is offering switchers 50% off most rival plans for those who come to Sprint between Friday and Jan. 7, along with up to $650/line in switching fees. The discounts last until 2018.
- Shares have tumbled on the move, down 4% today.
- Marcelo Claure also tweeted out a reward for existing customers: "A free tablet and 1 year of free service! While supplies last." Details on that offer are light, but Claure may fill it in with a news conference later today.
- There's a fair amount of fine print; Sprint is charging $36/line in activation fees (Verizon just reinstated $20 activation fees, while AT&T still has $45 fees for some contract plans) and the 50% off doesn't apply to a chunk of the bill, like taxes, surcharges, and premium content.
- Previously: Sprint teasing 'serious savings' in announcement (Nov. 18 2015)
- Previously: Sprint restructuring: Four regional hubs, uniting sales channels (Nov. 13 2015)
Wed, Nov. 18, 9:53 AM
- In just over an hour, Sprint (NYSE:S) plans a big announcement most likely related to price.
- If it is, it would be the latest in a series of moves where carriers tried to out-iPhone each other at the launch of Apple's latest flagship phone -- with Sprint offering a $1/month plan for the phone to trump a $5/month plan at T-Mobile -- as well as rearranging pricing for unlimited plans and data buckets.
- The move would also follow on the latest "Un-carrier" promotion event, at which T-Mobile promised free near-DVD quality video streaming to its customers.
- The open question is how much more promotion Sprint can afford while executing plans to cut up to $2.5B in costs in a restructuring that will include setting up four regional offices.
- Previously: Sprint -8.1% as sales, profits disappoint though phone subs return to growth (Nov. 03 2015)
Fri, Nov. 13, 7:19 PM
- Sprint's (S +0.7%) restructuring is taking shape, and it will include the creation of four regional offices, Bloomberg is reporting according to a memo from CEO Marcelo Claure that it obtained.
- Each of the four regions will have a president who reports directly to Claure, with an eye to quality of service and customer retention in 19 major markets. Sales teams will no longer be divided by channel but target the entire customer base.
- “For our colleagues who will be leaving, we will be sorry to see them go,” Claure said in the memo. “These are actions that we must take so that we can ensure the strength and long-term success of our company, and save thousands of other jobs.”
- The company still isn't putting a number to the job losses, though it is pursuing as much as $2.5B in savings.
- “We are going to go from a centralized model that we have today to a completely local decentralized model,” Claure told Bloomberg. “You’ll see 19 Sprints. We are going to go fight in the local markets rather than one Sprint fighting from Overland Park.”
- Shares were down 1% after hours.
Fri, Nov. 13, 6:49 PM
- Along with a price hike for its unlimited wireless phone plans on Sunday, Verizon (VZ -1.3%) is bringing back activation fees, instituting a $20 charge for new lines of service.
- The carrier had waived the fees just a few months ago when it abandoned phone subsidies and service contracts; they were $40 at the time for customers who signed two-year deals.
- AT&T (T -1.1%) charges a $15 fee for devices sold through its installment program, or $45 for a two-year contract or purchased device.
- Verizon is raising the price of its unlimited data plan by $20/month on Sunday, a move in line with recent ones by its competitors. Sprint (S +0.7%) raised its own unlimited data plan by $10/month at the end of September.
- At least Verizon waited until after T-Mobile's (TMUS +2%) "Un-carrier X" event to drop the news; T-Mo's John Legere is fond of lambasting competitors for broad line activation charges, though every carrier has one somewhere.
Wed, Nov. 4, 4:39 AM
- Japan's SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) reported weaker-than-expected net profit for its fiscal second quarter, as it works to turn around Sprint (NYSE:S), the U.S. wireless carrier it bought in 2013.
- Net income fell 56% from a year ago to ¥213B, missing analyst expectations of ¥262B.
- At a news conference following the results, SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son said the company would slash thousands of jobs at Sprint in an effort to cut more than $2B of fixed annual costs from the struggling unit.
Tue, Nov. 3, 9:14 AM
Tue, Nov. 3, 8:53 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is 8.1% lower premarket after fiscal Q2 results where it indeed returned to positive net additions in postpaid phone subscribers, but declining revenue disappointed, as did a net loss that didn't narrow as much as hoped.
- Net loss was $585M compared to a year-ago $765M. Revenues were off nearly 6%, though wireless service revenues plus installment plan billings and lease revenue of $7.1B was up slightly Y/Y.
- Adjusted EBITDA of $2.008B beat an expected $1.967B.
- Postpaid phone net added subscribers was 237,000, the first quarterly additions in years; that number includes 199,000 prepaid-to-postpaid migrations for a true new-subscriber number of about 38,000 (538,000 better than last year).
- Sprint platform postpaid net additions were 553,000, compared to a year-ago net loss of 272,000; total net additions were 1.1M vs. a year-ago 590,000.
- Revenue by segment: Service revenue, $6.88B (down 7.6%); equipment revenue, $1.095B (up 5.3%).
- The carrier is guiding for full-year EBITDA to be at the low end of the previous range of $7.2B-$7.6B, and full-year cash capex of about $5B, excluding impact of leased devices sold through indirect channels.
- Press release
Tue, Nov. 3, 7:31 AM
Mon, Nov. 2, 6:10 PM
- Sprint (S +2.9%) and Cuba's state telecommunications firm Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba -- Etecsa -- have signed a roaming deal that's the first direct deal of that kind between phone companies in the two countries.
- With the deal, Sprint subscribers visiting Cuba can send and receive calls and texts directly through Etecsa, which monopolizes telecom service in the country.
- Verizon began offering the first roaming service in Cuba in September, but that service has to go through third parties. Earlier this year, Sprint's prepaid Boost Mobile service launched a prepaid plan for calling Cuba that it targeted at Cuban-American core Miami.
- With increasing liberalization, Cuba's phone market could become the largest in the Caribbean, as mobile phone penetration is low in a population of 11M.
- After solid gains today, Sprint has given some back after hours, -1.1%.
Mon, Nov. 2, 12:29 PM
- After a cavalcade of recent customer-focused initiatives, Sprint (NYSE:S) is expected to add postpaid phone subscribers for the first time since Q4 2010 when it reports fiscal Q2 earnings tomorrow morning.
- And that should lead to a narrower loss even if revenue slips as expected. Consensus expectations are for Sprint to post revenues of $8.1B, down 4% from the prior year's $8.49B, and an EPS of -$0.07 compared to 2014's -$0.12.
- Sprint shares are up 2.5% today, a rebound from a couple of market days where the stock declined 5.6%.
- Oppenheimer's Tim Horan sees a "modest level of phone net adds (perhaps in the 200,000 range)," and while he expects it's a long-term underperformer, "for this upcoming quarter, the positive phone net adds, lease accounting benefits and new financing could benefit the stock."
- Pacific Crest's Michael Bowen sees postpaid phone net adds of 45,000: "We expect Sprint to provide additional color on the formation of its leasing company and on its network strategy. In addition, we expect to hear more concrete plans regarding Sprint's recent cost-cutting initiatives."
- A plan to cut $2.5B in costs that CFO Tarek Robbiati laid out last month has begun to get under way with such new moves as slashing severance pay and cutting free water and yogurt at HQ.
- Previously: Sprint Chairman Son buys Kansas City home near CEO Claure (Oct. 30 2015)
Mon, Nov. 2, 2:07 AM
- Expanding its ongoing turnaround efforts, Sprint (NYSE:S) aims to slash fiscal 2016 expenses by as much as $2.5B, through job cuts and a wide array of cost controls.
- "We are leaving no stone unturned and looking at all areas," company spokesman Dave Tovar said in an interview, but declined to predict how many employees would be laid off.
- The estimated cost savings for Sprint would be equivalent to about 10% of its current annual operating costs of $26B.
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