said it might eliminate its wireless and long-distance tracking stocks at some point to reduce confusion among investors, but the company has no immediate plans to change the two-stock structure.
"We've said that sometime in the future
it is something we probably would do depending on market conditions," said Bill White, vice president of corporate communications at Sprint.
Sprint currently has two stocks, the
Sprint Phone Group
, which tracks the performance of the company's long-distance business, and
, to follow the performance of the wireless operation.
In an interview with
on Thursday, Sprint CEO William Esrey said abolishing the tracking stocks would help to reduce confusion among some investors. He said such a plan may be adopted in one to five years.
"There's no plan on the drawing board to do it now," White said. "It's something that we always look at as market conditions change and as Sprint PCS matures as a company."
Sprint split its shares into separate classes in 1998. The move was seen as an attempt to attract both value and growth investors and was touted by analysts as the best way to unlock value, which is never an uncommon reaction when companies lay out plans to issue tracking shares. Of course, wireless isn't considered the growth market it once was, and the telecom industry in general is in a slump going on two years.
Sprint isn't alone among telecom companies with tracking stocks that are mere shadows of what they once were in the eyes of shareholders.
, all of which have fallen on hard times during the industry's slowdown.
Sprint PCS posted a narrower-than-expected first-quarter loss of 15 cents a share, compared with a loss of 40 cents a share in the same period a year ago. At the long-distance business, first-quarter earnings fell to 32 cents a share from 36 cents in the prior-year period.
Sprint PCS has fallen almost 53% since the start of the year, while Sprint FON has lost almost 23%. Sprint PCS ended up 1.4% to $11.56 Thursday, and FON fell 2.5% to $15.43.