Sprint's quarter was a yawn.
For Sprint's (S) fiscal first quarter results, customer growth was a silver lining as profit declined year over year as the telecommunications company reported its results before Wednesday's opening bell. The company did report higher than expected revenues, including growth in wireless revenue for the first time in four years.
Earnings per share fell to four cents on $176 million net profit from five cents on $206 million net profit a year ago, but above analyst's estimates of two cents a share, according to a FactSet broker survey. Total net operating revenue of $8.13 billion was down from $8.16 billion a year ago, but above FactSet's estimates for $8.06 billion.
Sprint added 87,000 new monthly bill paying cellular customers, an increase over the 55,000 added in the previous quarter, according to the earnings release.
Operating income was $815 million in the quarter, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of positive earnings, but down year over year from the first quarter of 2017 when operating income totaled $1.2 billion.
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"By balancing growth and profitability, we were able to grow wireless service revenue sequentially, continue to add retail phone customers, generate net income for the third consecutive quarter, and improve the network," said Sprint CEO Michel Combes in a statement.
Shares of Sprint declined slightly on the day to $5.38, from $5.43.
Jefferies analyst Scott Goldman issued a price target for the stock of $5.50 on Wednesday, noting better sales of handsets, sequential growth from quarter to quarter in revenue, and 15 % growth in adjusted EBITDA. The company's $3.3 billion in adjusted EBITDA was its highest total in 11 years.
Sprint saw Wireless Service revenues grow for the first time sequentially in four years to $5.7 billion for the period, compared to $5.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.
J.P. Morgan analyst Philip Cusick wrote Wednesday that higher subscriber additions were a bright spot, but worried about the company raising prices from a deeply discounted level and losing customers. Cusick did not rate the stock.
"What has been the reaction and how much remains of pricing up the base?" Cusick wrote. "Can the company get to the $6 billion or higher level in 2019?"
Sprint, the country's fourth largest wireless carrier is in the midst of a $26 billion merger with T-Mobile US (TMUS) , the nation's third largest wireless carrier, a deal that must win approval from the Federal Trade Commission.