Little more can be said about Sprint Nextel's
Revenue for the fourth quarter dipped 6% to $9.8 billion, as growth in the wireless business continued to decline. Profitability also sagged, with quarterly and full-year free cash flow falling 50% and 21%, respectively. On top of this, the company took a massive $29.7 billion non-cash impairment charge related to the Nextel merger.
Investors weren't the only ones surprised by the ugliness inside Sprint Nextel's operations. New CEO Dan Hesse admitted that the problems were even worse than he anticipated coming into the job. And to be honest, when I provided a bearish opinion on the company at the very end of 2007, I didn't think things would get this bad.
But all of Sprint Nextel's major competitors -- AT&T
Sprint Nextel is almost certain now to have only a minor role, if any, in plans for a nationwide WiMAX network. One-time partner Clearwire
Investors should anticipate some drama in the near term: Vultures are likely circling the company in earnest now, and large shareholders may seek alternatives to force Hesse's hand. Like 10 plumbers standing around a leaky toilet, each will have a different theory on how best to plug the flow of stench. Cleaning up the mess will take a long, long time.
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Fool contributor Dave Mock has fixed too many leaky toilets in his lifetime. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Sprint Nextel and Intel are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool's disclosure policy is the smell-good disclosure policy.