Clearwire's ( CLWR) third-quarter loss narrowed from a year ago, but the company's results still fell short of the Street's expectations, sending shares lower Monday. The Kirkland, Wash., wireless broadband service provider lost $166.6 million, or $1.01 a share, in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $328.6 million, or $2.01 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue jumped 47% from a year ago to $60.8 million. On average, analysts had expected a loss of $1 a share on revenue of $55.5 million, according to the Thomson Reuters. Shares of Clearwire were lately down 25 cents, or 3.1%, to $7.79. Gross margin shrank to 27% from 29% a year earlier, which the company said was due to the significantly increased number of network cell sites that Clearwire is leasing in advance of its planned mobile WiMax market rollout. Among key third-quarter metrics, Clearwire said consolidated net subscriber additions were approximately 8,000, bringing the total number of subscribers to 469,000. However, that number compares to 49,000 net additions in the year-ago quarter. Clearwire said the average revenue per subscriber increased to $40.43 from $37.41 a year ago, although the churn rate, which measures the frequency subscribers left the service, rose to 3% from 2.3% in the year-ago quarter. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission approved the transfer of licenses between Sprint Nextel ( S) and Clearwire, which struck a $14.5 million wireless agreement in May that will see both combine their wireless broadband businesses in a new company called Clearwire.
The company will deploy the first nationwide mobile WiMax network, considered a fourth-generation wireless technology that features fast data transfers over long distances. Sprint will contribute all of its 2.5 GHz spectrum and its Xohm-branded WiMax assets into the new Clearwire, a contribution worth approximately $7.4 billion. Separately, Comcast ( CMCSA) will invest $1.05 billion, Intel ( INTC) will invest $1 billion in addition to its previous investments made in Clearwire, Time Warner Cable ( TWC) will invest $550 million, Google ( GOOG) will invest $500 million and Bright House Networks will invest $100 million. It is expected that the five strategic investors will have to pay a premium for shares of Clearwire. "We were very gratified when last week the FCC announced unanimous approval of our pending transaction to combine Clearwire with Sprint's WiMax business," said Clearwire CEO Benjamin Wolff. "We continue to make progress toward closing the transaction before the end of the year."