Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) is still in the midst of a turnaround, but it is progressing very strongly so it might be past the turn. The company is recovering nicely, but its focus is on building a great network and providing its customers with a service worth paying for. It is the long game, but it is most definitely the right one. Sprint was amazing when it was scraping the bottom of the chart, and it is still a promising investment now. Until it generates a profit though, it is still under the broad term of a turnaround company.
There is a lot to talk about with Sprint from the pending Clearwire deal to the far older Softbank deal. Those important administrative things aside, focusing on Network Vision is extremely interesting. Sprint seems like it is on the path to a fantastic network. It does sorely need it as people I know that use Sprint experience a lag in their internet speeds. Offering unlimited data has its drawbacks, but the current caps from rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) are too low and expensive. I know the two major rivals are more conscientious of capital expenditures, while Sprint is pursuing them aggressively. However, Sprint is catching up which means it has more ground to cover.
Sprint Advancing Uphill
Getting Clearwire makes sense, and more spectrum is valuable even if it is the lower value bands. Spectrum is an extremely limited resource, and if it acceptable to make bold statements then there is not enough spectrum and there never will be. Barring some sort of unbelievable jump in technology and science spectrum will always be constrained. The goal will always be doing more with less. If that means using less air time for the data through a wider dispersal of towers or use of Wi-Fi, then so be it. Spectrum is data capacity on a budget, because every bit has to be stretched.
Sprint has a solid cash position after its deal with Softbank. It will aggressively use that cash to build out its network. Once the Clearwire deal is closed the company is likely to avoid further high-profile acquisitions. There are not really other key stats worth looking at right now. There are still losses related to the heavy upgrading so any metrics relying on profits are useless.
Sprint is rapidly approaching a critical growth point if the last earnings call is to be believed. A lot of the groundwork has been done, and there have been some early completions. For example the last earnings call said that 32 cities had LTE up and running, but another 114 were expected in the coming months. This is to be expected as bell curves are common even in large growth plans. Initial projects are launched, but as the expansion plan is solidified numerous parallel projects are launched. With delays to be expected completions will group around an average time to completion. The next earnings call should shed more light on these developments. The large scale approach of the network upgrading is something I really like. Constructing something from the ground up is expensive and time-consuming but you frequently come out with a better whole than you would if you incrementally upgraded bits and pieces over long periods of time.