Updated from 7 a.m.
surged 6% early Thursday as the big telco promised investors it would turn around its flagging wireless business.
The promise, along with a plan to sell
Razr at rock-bottom prices, enabled investors to overlook the company's second straight disappointing quarter.
Sprint missed third-quarter earnings estimates as the company's lucrative Nextel customers continued to flee.
The Reston, Va., telco made $247 million, or 8 cents a share, from continuing operations for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from the year-ago $263 million, or 12 cents a share.
Excluding 2 cents of special charges and 22 cents of merger integration costs, latest-quarter earnings were 32 cents a share, a penny shy of the Thomson Financial analyst consensus estimate.
Revenue rose 34% from a year ago to $10.5 billion, beating the $10.48 billion Wall Street target.
"In the third quarter, our margins benefited from merger synergies and the scale provided by acquisitions," said CEO Gary Forsee. "Our profitability in the quarter is encouraging and demonstrates the potential of an asset mix that now is predominantly wireless. In the third quarter we took some actions to improve the quality of the customers coming into our business, and this is constraining our near-term growth. At the same time, we have taken a number of actions we believe will improve our top-line growth performance over time."
Measures of the company's core wireless business continued the distressing slide it showed back in the second quarter.
Sprint shares fell 15% in a day back in early August after the company
missed targets and warned of rising customer defections.
The company has recently lost a host of top execs, including longtime operating chief Len Lauer and former Nextel chief Tim Donahue.
In the latest quarter, the wireless cooling trends only accelerated.
Average revenue per user dropped 5.5% from a year ago and 1% sequentially to $61, and churn, a measure of monthly customer defections, soared to 2.4% from the second quarter's 2.1%.
Sprint reported a total net subscriber gain of 233,000, but that reflects a loss of 188,000 post-paid subscribers.
The company made up for that with a gain of 216,000 Boost subscribers, a gain of 177,000 wholesale subscribers, and a gain of 28,000 net subscribers from affiliates. The company also acquired 458,000 post-paid customers though the purchase of UbiquiTel.
Sprint reiterated full-year revenue projections of $41 billion to $41.5 billion.