In the fourth quarter, Sprint saw 187,000 net new subscribers as revenue grew year over year for the first time in three years. But sales still came in short of Wall Street estimates and the company reported a net loss of $0.07 per share.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure called this report "a big step forward in our turnaround plan," and he's not necessarily wrong.
After all, free cash flow was positive after years in the red, and the company got to report positive subscriber trends. Its cost-cutting program, too, is starting to pay dividends. On the other hand, the subscriber growth is happening in the less attractive prepaid space while Sprint continues to lose customers in the postpaid market. Average revenue per subscriber is dwindling, forcing Sprint to keep cutting costs if it wants to get any closer to sustainable profits.
Share prices have more than doubled over the last 52 weeks, even including today's sudden plunge. As much as I would like Sprint's turnaround to work out, thereby putting more pressure on larger competitors, that's not the story I see in its results. This is not the type of unsupported share price plunge that invites opportunistic buys. Indeed, current Sprint shareholders might want to take another look at their investment theses, because it might be time to drop out of this stock.