It is no secret that Sprint is hurting as it struggles to hang on to its status as the number three carrier in the US, as T-Mobile is coming uncomfortably close to knocking Sprint to the number four position. Sprint struggled to update its network to LTE and expand its coverage and customer base…add to that the fact that T-Mobile was campaigning aggressively to steal away customers, from whomever they could – especially dissatisfied Sprint customers – and this could spell disaster. However, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and CFO Joe Euteneuer addressed those concerns at the company’s earnings conference call and subsequent interviews, insisting that they have enough cash to attract new customers and improve their network.
Sprint has already spent $914 million in cash during the first quarter alone and many analysts and investors question whether their long-term liquidity will sustain Sprint while they turn around the company. Sprint ended the quarter with $7.5 billion in liquidity, including cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $4.2 billion and $2.8 billion on undrawn borrowing capital. This picture was made a little rosier by some shuffling of their service receivables facility by increasing its size from $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion by now including equipment receivables in the equation. Under a vendor financing agreement they also have $1.4 billion available to buy 2.5GHz LTE equipment. According to our source, wireless distributor Brightstar – owned by Claure before Sprint’s owner, SoftBank, purchased the majority ownership as part of the deal to hire CEO Claure – is purchasing devices from the OEMs for Sprint. This keeps the purchases on Brightstar’s books and improves the look of Sprint’s working capital.
Claure said that Sprint is finalizing its plans for what they call the “Sprint Next Generation Network” to add a more consistent reliable experience across their entire network. Sprint is estimating it will cost them $5 billion on capital expenditures this fiscal year, less than analysts predicted…leaving them wonder if that will be enough to make a difference and if they have the money to spend. Claure told CNBC, “We’re spending what is necessary. We feel very good about the future of our network” and added that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and SoftBank “are 100 percent behind the concept of densifying the network and as you’ve seen from our results, our network just keeps on getting better every day.”