Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) stockholders are on pins and needles, waiting for the wireless telecommunications giant to report second quarter earnings results Tuesday morning. Sprint not only must show tons of growth momentum Tuesday, the company must issue confident guidance if S stock — down 11% in the past six months — is to get out of its rut.
But will the company deliver? With better-than-expected earnings results already in hand from T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS), as well as larger rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications, Inc. (NYSE:VZ), S stock holders are wondering is there any growth left for Sprint, given how highly competitive the U.S. wireless industry has become?
Once thought to be on the verge of bankruptcy, Sprint has turned itself around and has become an acquisition target, thanks to the strong operational improvements under the leadership of CEO Marcelo Claure. The company has reversed its customer losses not only because of aggressive marketing tactics, but also because of its improving wireless network.
Reports now suggest that the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier could be taken out by either Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR). Those rumors are on top of continuing merger chatter with TMUS.
To be sure, Softbank Corp. (Japan) (OTCMKTS:SFTBY) founder Masayoshi Son, who owns 80% of Sprint, has shown he’s in no rush to sell his golden goose. But for any of these M&A talks to carry weight, Sprint must continue to grow subscribers and, just as important — if not more so — profits. And the company must do this as the U.S. now boasts a high wireless penetration of 95%, suggesting meaningful saturation.
Whispers of Break Even
For the three months that ended June, Wall Street expect Sprint to lose a penny per share on revenue of the $8.24 billion. This compares to the year-ago quarter when the company lost 46 cents per share on $8.84 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, the so-called “whisper number” expects Sprint to deliver a break even quarter, which would mark a drastic financial improvement in one year.
In the fourth quarter, Sprint reported a loss of 7 cents ashare on revenue of $8.5 billion, wider than the 4 cents Wall Street was looking for. But Sprint stock rose more than 4% on a strong revenue beat. That Sprint added 187,000 new wireless customers, while lowering its churn (customer cancellations) rate to 1.75% underscores the improvement of its wireless network.
Can Sprint build on these numbers?
For some context, AT&T just added 2.8 million net subscribers in its wireless business. Of that total, 2.3 million were in the U.S., while 476,000 were from Mexico. Notably, AT&T reduced postpaid phone churn to a best-ever 0.79%, while total postpaid churn was 1.01% — both beating Street estimates.Meanwhile, in T-Mobile’s own Q2 results, the company added 1.3 million total net subscribers, of which branded postpaid net adds were 817,000 and postpaid phone net adds were 786,000. T-Mobile management insisted they would capture more than 100% of industry’s postpaid growth.
Still, it would be a mistake to part with S stock now, especially as the Sprint’s 31.5 million post-paid subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter continue to gain more momentum. Plus, Sprint’s fourth-quarter free cash flow grew to $394 million, compared with a mere $3 million in the prior-year quarter.
The business improvements are beginning to take shape. And this explains why TMUS, AT&T or Comcast are salivating over Sprint’s assets.
Bottom Line for S Stock
Sprint stock is down about 15% since reaching its 52-week high of $9.65 in January. And that has created a solid buying opportunity, especially as the company continues to benefit from its combination of cost cuts and network investments.
There continues be be tons of growth catalysts that can send S stock higher to $10 per share, delivering 21% returns in the next 12 to 18 months.
As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.