Analysts: Sprint improving, but subscribers continue to search for exits

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is likely to show improving subscriber trends when its reports second-quarter earnings Wednesday, but analysts predict the carrier will still post a net subscriber loss.

According to Wall Street analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, Sprint is going to post total net subscriber losses of between 50,000 and 150,000 customers in the second quarter.

Sprint has made strides in adding both prepaid and wholesale customers, analysts said, but is struggling with postpaid subscriber losses. Analysts predict Sprint is going to lose 425,000 postpaid subscribers in the second quarter, a marked improvement from the loss of 991,000 in the year-ago period.

Sprint likely will crow about its HTC Evo, its first 4G smartphone running on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, which analysts said was a hit during the quarter despite the fact that Clearwire's network is still expanding. According to a research note from Deutsche Bank analyst Brett Feldman, Sprint's postpaid losses might have been as much as 100,000 higher without the Evo. Sprint is poised to release its second 4G smartphone, the Samsung Epic 4G, later this year.

Sprint's earnings come in a bit of a topsy-turvy time for the carrier. Sprint announced last week that Dan Schulman, the head of its growing prepaid unit, will be leaving the company. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has also indicated that the company, along with Clearwire, might deploy LTE technology on top of the existing WiMAX network. 

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this FierceWireless Q2 earnings page

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Article updated July 27 to reflect the date of Sprint's earnings announcement.