December 31, 2007
My buddy Dave made some fine points in his initial assault on the Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) thesis -- namely, that the company has been unable to stop the defection of customers to AT&T (NYSE: T ) , Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) . Dave also makes the point that Sprint's turnaround story hasn't and won't be some sort of overnight fix.
True and true. While Sprint is making strides on reducing dropped calls and improving customer service and billing, those improvements are yet to translate to reduced churn or boosted subscriber counts. Honestly, though, I don't consider Sprint's recent poor results a reflection of these initiatives. It will take some time (unfortunately) for these improvements to sink into the psyches of its existing customers. I'm confident that they ultimately will, however, and as they do, you should see the brakes start to clamp down on Sprint's subscriber defections.
Perhaps readers noted one particular area where Dave held his punches: the valuation. Sprint may not be operating on all cylinders, but the market has clearly priced those low expectations into Sprint's shares. In my view, investors with the fortitude to stick it out for a few potentially rocky quarters could gain much more than they stand to lose.