The two major announcements for the third-largest domestic wireless carrier were that it would finally be getting in on Apple's
As of last quarter, Sprint's balance sheet was carrying almost $4.3 billion in cash and short-term investments. The company owes a total of $18.5 billion in long-term debt and financing and capital lease obligations, of which nearly $2.3 billion is current and due within the next year. These figures are as of June 30, before last week's announcements.
The Wall Street Journal had reported that Sprint had committed to buying 30.5 million iPhones -- roughly $20 billion -- from Apple over the next four years and that the deal would fail to generate a profit until 2014. There were also rumblings of exclusivity, but those predictably turned out to be bogus. Exclusivity would have tacked on another couple billion to the price tag. Lacking any official details, let's just simplify the cost to $5 billion per year.
Sprint said it plans on spending $10 billion on its network expansion in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, Sprint will continue supporting and selling WiMAX devices through the end of 2012, but you can expect it will ditch the technology as soon as possible. Add $5 billion per year to our count.
So we're up to an estimated $10 billion in costs in the first year alone between the iPhone addition and network upgrades. It's no wonder that the stock rallied on the initial good news, only to tank once costs came into the picture. Sprint is going to need to raise money, either through selling even more debt or raising dilutive equity capital. Neither scenario is particularly pretty for shareholders.
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