OVERLAND PARK, Kan. ( TheStreet) -- Sprint ( S) shares slumped on Monday following a news report that the telecom giant is spending a fortune to get Apple's ( AAPL) coveted iPhone. The Wall Street Journal said Sprint has committed to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhones from Apple over the next four years in an attempt to claw share from bigger rivals AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ).
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told the company's board that the no.3 telco would likely lose money on the deal through 2014, according to the Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. Investors have baulked at the scale of the rumored commitment, said to be worth $20 billion at current rates. Sprint's shares closed down 31 cents, or 10.2%, at $2.73 on Monday. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation," explained a Sprint spokesman, in an email to TheStreet. Apple is expected to launch its eagerly-anticipated iPhone 5 at an event in Cupertino, Calif. on Tuesday, which could coincide with major carrier news from the gadget maker. Rumors that Sprint was prepping a fall iPhone launch have been swirling for some time as the telco attempts to revitalize its business. Sprint has struggled with customer defections in recent years, not least because rivals Verizon and AT&T already have the iPhone within their respective arsenals. Sprint had around 52 million customers at the end of its recent fiscal second quarter, while market leader Verizon had 106.3 million customers. AT&T had 98.6 million subscribers. The Overland Park, Kan.-based company will "almost certainly" offer unlimited data plans to new iPhone buyers, according to the Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter. Apple has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment. Shares of Apple closed down $6.72, or 1.76%, at $374.6 on Monday. -- Written by James Rogers in New York. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.