Clearwire sees record revenues, but losses mount thanks to write-offs

WiMAX operator Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) saw its fiscal first-quarter revenues more than double on strong subscriber growth, but posted a loss thanks to some $202.2 million in non-cash write-offs related to its network as the operator looks for ways to save cash.

Clearwire said it ended the first quarter with about 6.15 million total subscribers, adding a total of 1.8 million total net new subscribers--155,000 retails customers and 1.6 million wholesale subscribers--in the quarter. Clearwire said its wholesale subscribers consist primarily of users of 3G/4G multi-mode devices, meaning that Sprint is the the wholesale partner signing up the most wholesale subscribers.

First quarter 2011 actual revenue was $242 million, representing a 142-percent increase over the first quarter 2010 actual revenue of $106.7 million. Retail average revenue per user (ARPU) was a record $46.32.

The company's net loss was $227 million, or 93 cents per basic share, thanks to $202.2 million in non-cash write-offs. Clearwire said it took $31.3 million in write-offs related to its abandonment of projects that no longer fit within its strategic network plans. In addition, Clearwire said it terminated certain tower leases. Earlier this week wireless backhaul services provider FiberTower announced it received its second early termination notice from Clearwire to discontinue some of its backhaul services effective April 30. The termination represents about $434,000 in monthly service revenue, the company said. And Clearwire must pay about $1.9 million in early termination fees.

Clearwire said it expects to end 2011 with approximately 9.5 million subscribers, with most of those subscribers coming from its wholesale business. This is an increase from the previous guidance of 8.8 million subscribers provided in February 2011. The Company continues to expect capital expenditures in 2011 to be less than $400 million. This year Clearwire also expects to aggressively implement additional cost efficiencies aimed at improving cash flow and achieving positive EBITDA in 2012.

For more:
- see this release

Special Report: FierceWireless Q1 earnings page

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