Wireless services provider Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is set to release second-quarter earnings this week. Let's tune in and see whether this flip is likely to come up heads, tails, or somewhere in between.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? A largely noncommittal group of 26 analysts tracks Sprint Nextel; six brave a buy rating, while the other 20 say hold. In our Motley Fool CAPS database, 1,267 of our 110,000 members have rated the stock, giving it a two-star rating overall.
  • Revenue. Revenue is estimated to be $9.2 billion this quarter, down 10% from last year.
  • Earnings. The average analyst expects $0.03 per share.

What management says:
Well beyond the stage of trying to put a happy face on earnings, Spring Nextel CEO Dan Hesse is pretty much just telling it like it is -- pretty bad. But while Hesse acknowledges the problems, he maintains that the ills are short term and he spends plenty of time telling investors what is going on to improve the business. For starters, the company will offload its next-generation WiMAX network division, including spectrum, into the new Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) venture that includes backing from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). Hesse says this "allows Sprint management to focus our resources and attention on improving the performance of our core business."

To help kick performance up a notch, the company is aggressively pushing unlimited plans and its new Samsung Instinct smartphone, which supposedly is standing up well against the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone that has AT&T (NYSE:T) gushing.

What management does:
Good thing Sprint is focusing on its core, because the core metrics are pretty rotten and getting markedly worse.

Metric

09/06

12/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

12/07

3/08

Net Subscriber
Additions*

233

742

568

373

(60)

(108)

(1,087)

Churn

2.8%

2.7%

2.7%

2.5%

2.7%

2.8%

3.2%

ARPU

$58.64

$57.55

$56.48

$57.19

$56.15

$54.97

$53.32

*In thousands. Source: Sprint Nextel.

One Fool says:
With Sprint Nextel spending heavily to market the Instinct launched in June, investors should be particularly interested to see if this product can truly save the company, or at least stem the customer losses and the bleeding of average revenue per user (ARPU). With even Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) stating that the phone broke sales records in its stores, the influence on core metrics should be significant even though little will be seen in the second-quarter numbers. I'm somewhat skeptical that one successful product launch will be enough to reverse momentum this quarter, but things are looking better for improvements in the back half of the year.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock works to live, not the other way around. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Sprint Nextel, Intel, and Best Buy are Inside Value picks. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Best Buy and Apple are Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. The Fool's disclosure policy has never been returned by a disgruntled reader.