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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Market's Bet Against Sprint (S)(T)

Sprint's stock has been going down for some time, but in the third quarter Wall St. reaffirmed its dislike for the phone operator, sending it shares down 14% to $17.15.

While the intergration of Cingular seems to have gone well for AT&T, operational problems have hampered the process between Sprint and recently aquired NexTel. Mobile ESPN, which was a joint venture with Sprint, is ending its attempt to get into the cell handset market, and Disney will take a $30 million write-down. And, T-Mobile, which lagged behind Sprint and Cingular in broadband phone offerings has recently bought large amounts of new spectrum from the FCC.

In short, while Sprint fumbles its NexTel intergration, its competitors are moving forward to gain more share of the US market.

Even Sprint's announcment that it will use WiMax for its next generation of broadband phones does not seem to be helping the perception of the company with investors. And, for good reason. Instead of WiMax being a portion of the bet on Sprint's future, it is not becoming the primary bet.

If Sprint screws up on its WiMax roll-out, the market may become even more unfriendly.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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