Sprint Nextel today reported that during the first quarter of 2011, the company achieved its best total company wireless net subscriber additions in five years. The company added more than 1.1 million total wireless net subscribers driven by best ever prepaid net subscriber additions of 846,000 and net postpaid subscriber additions of 310,000 for the Sprint brand. Sprint achieved best ever postpaid churn of 1.81 percent and the lowest prepaid churn of 4.36 percent in over five years. Here is more:
Sprint reported first quarter consolidated net operating revenues of approximately $8.3 billion, which is a 3 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago, and posted operating income of $259 million. The company also reported Adjusted OIBDA of $1.5 billion, a net loss of $439 million and a diluted loss per share of 15 cents for the quarter. Sprint generated $178 million of Free Cash Flow* in the quarter. As of March 31, 2011, the company had approximately $4.0 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments after repayment of $1.65 billion of debt in the quarter. The company does not have any other debt maturities until March 2012.
The company served over 51 million customers at the end of the first quarter of 2011. This includes 33.0 million postpaid subscribers (27.4 million via the Sprint brand on CDMA, 5.3 million on iDEN, and 317,000 Nextel PowerSource users who utilize both networks), 13.1 million prepaid subscribers (9.9 million on CDMA and 3.2 million on iDEN) and approximately 4.9 million wholesale and affiliate subscribers, all of whom utilize our CDMA network.
For the quarter, Sprint added more than 1.1 million net wireless customers including net additions of 732,000 retail subscribers and net additions of 389,000 wholesale and affiliate subscribers.
Sprint lost approximately 114,000 net postpaid subscribers during the quarter, a net improvement of 464,000, or 80 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2010.
The CDMA network added approximately 253,000 net postpaid customers during the quarter, which includes net losses of 57,000 Nextel PowerSource customers. Excluding Nextel PowerSource customer losses, the Sprint brand added 310,000 postpaid wireless subscribers. The iDEN network lost 367,000 net postpaid customers in the quarter.
The company added 846,000 net prepaid subscribers during the quarter, which includes net additions of 1.4 million prepaid CDMA customers, offset by net losses of 560,000 prepaid iDEN customers. The credit quality of Sprint?s end-of-period postpaid customers remained strong with more than 83 percent prime.
For the quarter, Sprint reported its best ever postpaid churn of 1.81 percent, compared to 2.15 percent for the year-ago period and 1.86 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. The company achieved its best quarterly year-over-year improvement in postpaid churn in five years primarily as a result of progress in brand health, handset offerings and overall customer perception. Sequentially, postpaid churn improved five basis points overcoming the historical first quarter seasonal increase.
Approximately 9 percent of postpaid customers upgraded their handsets during the first quarter, reflecting strong demand for Sprint?s handset portfolio and continued strength in contract renewals.
Prepaid churn for the first quarter of 2011 was 4.36 percent, compared to 5.74 percent for the year-ago period and 4.93 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. The year-over-year and sequential improvements in prepaid churn were primarily a result of the predominance of Boost Monthly Unlimited subscribers on CDMA and Assurance WirelessSM customers, who on average have lower churn than that of Virgin Mobile customers. Prepaid churn also benefited from improvement in churn for Virgin Mobile customers both year-over-year and sequentially.
Wireless Service Revenues
Wireless service revenues of $6.6 billion for the quarter represent an increase of approximately 3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2010. The year-over-year improvement is primarily due to higher postpaid and prepaid ARPU, an increased number of prepaid subscribers as a result of the Boost Monthly Unlimited offering, additional market launches of Assurance WirelessSM and the re-launch of the Virgin Mobile brand, partially offset by net losses of postpaid subscribers since the first quarter 2010.
Sequentially, wireless service revenues increased primarily as a result of higher postpaid and prepaid ARPU and growth in prepaid net subscribers.
Wireless postpaid ARPU increased year-over-year and sequentially from $55 to $56. Year-over-year, ARPU benefited from higher monthly recurring revenues as a result of premium data add-on charges for smartphones and the greater popularity of fixed-rate bundle plans, partially offset by lower overage, casual data and text revenues. Sequentially, ARPU increased primarily as a result of growth in premium data add-on revenues.
Prepaid ARPU for the quarter was approximately $28, compared to $27 in the year-ago period and $28 in the fourth quarter of 2010. The year-over-year improvement primarily resulted from higher ARPU among Boost Mobile customers.
Wholesale, affiliate and other revenues were up $20 million, compared to the year-ago period, and increased $7 million sequentially. Service revenues from wholesale, affiliate and other revenues improved year-over-year and sequentially primarily as a result of growth in wholesale revenues from our 3G MVNO relationships.