Clearwire doubles Q4 revenue, adds 900K wholesale subs

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) reported that its fourth-quarter revenues will double, beating market expectations.  However, the company's wholesale net customer adds for the quarter were just 900,000, down from 1.86 million in the third quarter.

Clearwire released its revenue and subscriber figures a part of a preliminary report of its fourth-quarter earnings. The company said revenue for the quarter will be $362 million, up from $180.7 million in the year-ago period and besting analysts' expectations of around $355 million, according to Reuters.

The company reported around 900,000 net wholesale customer additions in the quarter, which is down from 1.42 million in the year-ago period and 1.86 million in the third quarter. The majority of Clearwire's wholesale customers are smartphone users from Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), Clearwire's majority owner and largest wholesale customer. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk wrote in a research note that Clearwire's wholesale additions topped the firm's estimate of 855,000, and that the figure indicated that Sprint customers are still snapping up mobile WiMAX-enabled Android smartphones despite the introduction of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone at Sprint.

Overall, the company said it ended 2011 with 10.4 million customer, which is about 140 percent year-over-year total subscriber growth. Approximately 9.1 million of those are wholesale customers and 1.3 million are retail subscribers.

Interestingly, Clearwire said that aggregate usage by wholesale customers increased around 22 percent in the fourth quarter compared to third quarter 2011, driven primarily smartphone usage, which increased around 30 percent over the same period. Total usage on the company's WiMAX network by wholesale and retail customers increased 165 percent during 2011.

Separately from its earnings announcement, Clearwire announced that it plans to offer $300 million in new debt, but did not say what it will do with the proceeds from selling the notes. Clearwire intends to use $734 million from its recent stock offerings to help construct its TD-LTE network overlay. Sprint may also contribute more funding to buy LTE capacity from Clearwire if it meets certain LTE buildout targets.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article
- see this BTIG blog post (reg. req.)

Special Report: Wireless in the fourth quarter of 2012

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