Maybe some investors were thinking that Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) would report that the worst was behind it in its attempt to turn around what has gone down as one of the worst mergers in history. But while some metrics did show improvements, there's still more pain in store before any significant turnaround occurs.

The company reported $9.1 billion in revenue in its second-quarter financials, which was an 11% drop from last year. The drop in consolidated revenue mirrored the 12.5% decline in revenues from the wireless business, where Sprint Nextel saw another net 901,000 customers leave its service. While this is better than the 1.1 million customers lost last quarter, it's still not happy news.

On the plus side, the company's direct shot at the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone -- the Samsung Instinct touchscreen phone -- is doing its job. The Instinct and aggressively priced unlimited plans have helped Sprint retain more high-value customers, dropping post-paid-customer churn to less than 2% in the process and keeping the average revenue per user (ARPU) of this group stable at $56.

But Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse made it very clear that the company has yet to turn the corner. Dashing any hopes that the trend in the reduction of customer losses would continue, the company forecast higher customer-loss numbers in the next quarter because of seasonal factors.

The trend that will continue then is the one where leading providers Verizon Wireless -- joint venture between Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) -- and AT&T (NYSE:T) continue to increase their lead on the company. And while its next-generation WiMAX efforts that will likely be transferred to Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) sometime later this year are making progress, any monetary benefits are still a long ways off.

In the meantime, Sprint will be raising more money, since the company also announced a new offering of up to 3 million shares. Unsurprisingly, investors responded to the potential new dilution and fleeting improvements with sour grapes and bid the stock down more than 14% yesterday.

So, investors playing the Sprint turnaround are getting a good lesson in patience. Certainly, there's a lot of value in the company's network and customer assets. But it takes time, strong leadership, and good execution to unlock that value.

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