Last week, in the wake of AT&T's (NYSE: T) and Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) earnings reports, I asked which of the two stocks you'd prefer to own as investors. Close to 650 of you -- or 49% -- voted for AT&T. Verizon raked in 40% of the vote.

Today, I'm asking whether this morning's report from Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) changes your view. Would you rather own the upstart than Ma Bell or Big Red? We'll get to the poll in a minute. First, let's review what Sprint said about its first quarter.

Revenue grew 3% year over year, to $8.3 billion, resulting in a lower-than-expected $0.15-per-share net loss. (Analysts had been calling for a $0.22-per-share loss, Bloomberg reports.) Free cash flow declined sharply because of working capital investments and a $100 million pension contribution. Taking all that into account, here's how the three major telcos compare financially:



Sprint Nextel^


CAPS stars (out of 5) ** ** ****
Revenue growth 1.5% 2.0% (1.4%)
Normalized net income growth (10.1%) Not material (2.0%)
Gross margin 57.4% 46.1% 60.0%
Return on capital 6.9% (0.2%) 7.8%
Levered free cash flow $8,736 $2,802 $12,570
Dividend yield 5.60% No dividend 5.30%
Forward P/E 13.11 (5.78) 16.95
PEG ratio 3.39 (1.29) 2.02

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.
* All metrics calculated over the trailing 12 months.
^ Except for percentages, all numbers in millions.

Sprint still lags; it hasn't produced a profit and doesn't pay a dividend. But that's not the whole story. For all its financial foibles, customers still like Sprint's network. More than 1.1 million wireless subscribers joined its rolls in the first quarter, its highest haul in five years.

Investors are right to be impressed. Sprint retained customers and attracted new ones in spite of discouraging reports about the relative performance of its WiMAX network and Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) efforts to win converts to the Verizon iPhone.

Does this make Sprint a stock worth buying? I'm asking you. Please vote in the poll below, then leave a comment to let us know which telecom stock you'd buy.

You can also rate AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon in Motley Fool CAPS and keep tabs on the companies by adding all three stocks to your watchlist for free, personalized stock tracking.

AT&T is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended members create a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy wants just a click a day. Is that too much to ask?