Nextel Dumps Some Debt and Adds Subscribers

Nextel Communications ( NXTL) said it took measures again to pare down its debt load Wednesday, saying it has retired an additional $733 million in debt and preferred securities in exchange for 33 million common shares and $205million in cash. It also reaffirmed subscriber addition targets for thethird quarter.

Nextel's long-term debt is now around $12.6 billion, down from $13.4 billion as of June 30. All told, the debt-strapped wireless carrier has retired $1.83 billion this year, according to the company.

Investors noticed, sending the carrier's shares up 28 cents, or 5.35% to $5.51 in early afternoon trading, on a day largely marked by share price erosion across the sector. AT&T Wireless ( AWE) was down 3 cents, or 0.7% to $4.27. Sprint PCS ( PCS) lost 16 cents, or 3.91% to $3.93.

In a prepared statement, company executives said the current quarter is also seeing healthy subscriber addition gains, on par with past quarters this year. "Nextel continues to opportunistically improve its balance sheet while we pursue smart growth," said Nextel CEO Tim Donahue. "So far in the third quarter, indications are that our subscriber growth will be consistent with recent quarters while our cash flow is trending upward."

In the just-passed quarter, the company had 471,000 net additional subscribers.

The question now becomes just where the company expects to find additional subscribers in a business where competing operators have signaled that the gangbuster-growth periods may be behind them. Judging by the metrics of Nextel's just-passed quarter and the company's comments in the last quarterly earnings conference call, it will most likely come at the expense of its competitors.

The company's CEO and CFO both certified its recent SEC financial filings, according to a company statement.

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