is offering voluntary buyout packages to some employees as part of the wireless company's cost-cutting measures.
Sprint spokesman James Fisher said the company will allow groups of employees that don't deal directly with customers the ability to apply for the packages. Sprint will grant the buyouts on a group-by-group basis based on current staffing levels and company needs. Not everyone seeking a buyout will get one, Fisher said.
"We have been looking at cutting costs all of this year," Fisher said. "In the third quarter, that really helped us in terms of our cash flow and our cash position. Labor costs are a big part of that."
Fisher added that there isn't a specific number of employee volunteers that Sprint is targeting. "There is a pool of people we could make eligible and we'll look at the response," he said.
during the prior session, shares of Sprint Nextel were jumping 13.9% to $2.22. Still, the company's stock has fallen nearly 30% in November and 83% in 2008.
Reductions in labor costs would be the next in a chain of cuts Sprint has made this year in an effort to generate cash flow. In the third quarter, the company stopped buying office supplies, which saved the company $17.5 million by reducing the amount of office supplies purchased by 86%, according to Fisher.
Additionally, Sprint has also dramatically cut back on travel expenses. From January to September, Sprint reduced the number of plane tickets issued to employees by 63%, saving the company $7.5 million.
Asked what the next step would be after offering voluntary buyouts to some employees, Fisher said Sprint is "looking at all of our opportunities to reduce costs one by one."
"We're looking at how we can reduce our costs without impacting our business significantly and, most importantly, without in any way impacting our customers," he said. "We have really put so much into improving customer service."
of $326 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a profit of $64 million, or 2 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, Sprint's earnings came in at break-even, falling short of Wall Street's average estimate for a profit of 3 cents a share.
In the third quarter, Sprint saw total wireless customers declined by a net 1.3 million including losses of 1.1 million post-paid customers and 329,000 prepaid users. By comparison, rival
realized a net gain of 2 million wireless subscribers in the quarter and
added 2.1 million net wireless subscribers.