Wireless broadband services provider Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) will deliver its fourth-quarter earnings later this month. Let's take a peek behind the curtain and see what's in store.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Fifteen Wall Street analysts register an opinion on Clearwire, with eight recommending a buy, while seven say hold. In our Motley Fool CAPS database, 277 investors have rated the stock, which has earned a two-star rating.
  • Revenue. On average, analysts see revenue of $46 million.
  • Earnings. Analysts expect the red ink to keep flowing to the tune of a $1.00 per-share loss.

What management says:
Clearwire updated the analysts at the end of January. Even with the background of questions about a possible reunion with Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S), management remained upbeat and said it continues to make progress in developing a roaming agreement between the two. Though analysts were hoping to hear that a resource-sharing agreement was rekindled, CEO Ben Wolff instead noted that the two companies "have aligned on a common network architecture with common features, functionality and performance expectations."

Management also reported that it expects to achieve $45 million in service revenue and 394,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter.

What management does:
Progress in Clearwire's initial WiMAX markets looks good, but there's not an extensive operating history at this point.

2005

2006

1Q 2007

2Q2007

3Q2007

Service Revenue (thousands)

$8,451

$67,598

$29,275

$35,484

$41,297

Net Loss (millions)

$140

$284

$93

$118

$329

Subscribers (thousands)

62.3

206.2

258.0

299.0

348.0

Source: Capital IQ

One Fool says:
Assuming Clearwire makes great strides in spreading WiMAX nationwide, new risks will certainly pop up for investors. For one, Clearwire noted that there is a strong competitive response from cable and telecom operators. And Clearwire also has a revenue-sharing agreement with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) -- much the same way that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) gets a cut of AT&T's (NYSE: T) revenue for iPhone usage -- that kicks in once laptops with Intel's WiMAX chips start showing up on the network. Both issues will cut into margins and should be watched.

On a positive note, Clearwire management shrewdly noted that it will tap the brakes a little and moderate the development of new markets in light of tighter capital markets. But dramatic changes in the forward business plan could happen in short order if a new deal with Sprint Nextel or funding from rumored sources such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) or Best Buy (Nasdaq: BBY) materializes. Either way, Clearwire is on the same path -- the amount of time to get there is the open question.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock could live off ice cream sandwiches if he had to. He owns shares of Intel. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Best Buy is also a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy was seen with Mrs. White holding the rope in the laboratory.