Sprint Nextel posts Q1 loss amid gains in sales

US wireless giant Sprint Nextel swung to a first-quarter loss as investments in operations wiped out modest gains in sales, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said for the January-March quarter, the company reported losing $211 million versus $417 million a year ago.

Excluding one-time amortization charges, Sprint Nextel said it earned $0.18 per share, well below the $0.22 per share expected by analysts polled by Thomson Financial, the report said.

The Associated Press report further said revenues for the quarter rose slightly to $10.1 billion from $10.07 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected $10.31 billion in sales.

The company reiterated its expectation of annual revenues between $41 billion and $42 billion, the report said.
Analysts predict sales of $41.4 billion and 2007 earnings of $0.90 per share, it added.

The report also quoted Gary Forsee, the company's CEO and chairman, as saying that the company spent a lot of money during the quarter trying to alleviate technological and signal problems.

Sprint Nextel said it gained a net of 600,000 new wireless subscribers during the quarter, ending at 53.6 million. But it lost 220,000 high-quality customers who pay their bills at the end of the month and typically spend more, the report said.

It was the third straight quarter of losing postpaid customers, most of them former Nextel Communication customers who have been frustrated by poor signal quality and other problems since the company was acquired by Sprint in 2005, the report added.