Sprint’s stock rallied after the carrier reported Tuesday that it had dramatically reduced its losses in the first quarter, even though it lost subscribers.
Investors drove up the share price to $8.19, a gain of about 10 percent, after Sprint reported a quarterly loss of $151 million, an improvement of 77 percent from the same time a year ago, when it lost $643 million. Its operating income of $420 million represents a dramatic lift from the prior year’s quarter, when it reported operating income of $29 million.
The nation’s third-largest wireless carrier reported a net loss of 383,000 subscribers during the quarter, which it attributed to disruptions caused by the company’s ongoing network overhaul. Sprint has been replacing its old 3G network with speedier fourth-generation LTE coverage. The upgrade should be largely complete by midyear.
The carrier’s Sprint Spark service, which promises top wireless speeds of 50 to 60 megabits per second, will launch in six additional cities, including Oakland and Orlando, Fla., bringing its availability to 24 U.S. markets. The service combines three bands of wireless spectrum to provide improved speeds.
Sprint said it plans to deploy Sprint Spark in 100 of America’s largest cities over the next three years.
The carrier’s new Sprint Family pricing plan, which allows customers to add up to 10 family and friends together in one package, is catching on with consumers. Since its introduction in the quarter, some three million customers have joined the plan.
In addition to its earnings, Sprint unveiled its anticipated music partnership with Spotify.
Sprint will offer six free months of the music streaming service to Sprint Family plan subscribers. After that, it will charge a discounted monthly subscription fee of $5 or $8 per person, depending on the number of Spotify Premium users in the family plan. After 18 months, customers pay the full $10 monthly Spotify subscription charge. Customers not on a Sprint Family plan receive Spotify free for three months.
In conjunction with its music offering, Sprint said it would be the exclusive source of the HTC One (M8) Harman Kardon edition phone, which features a set of AE-S headphones with extended bass response. The device, with its five-inch high-definition screen, dual camera and other features, goes on sale in Sprint stores on May 9.