I hear that.. the problem is that Masa Son/Softbank's gold gilding has been wearing off to reveal that the underlying plans are a paper tiger. The plans when SB took over were not met. I makes sense to go back and read the acquisition prospectus, Softbank and Sprint quarterly releases and what Masa Son, Hesse, commissioned studies, and what they said about what would happen. There were several details that were supposed to have taken place. Sprint has accomplished cuts in expenses but revenues have slid as well and margins failed to improve. The network has improved but debt has grown and deadlines loom closer.
OK, there is a grand new plan.. or is there? What is the new plan, what will it do and how much is it costing? Chances are that 90% of so called investors here hardly have a clue... they dummy it down like everything else these days to 'Masa Son, (Hail Son!!!) said he is working night and day on a new plan.' I buy that he is working on something and the companies Sprint-SB are working with now are among the very best and Softbanks technical teams are among the world's best. Yet I do not buy into a fantasy that they have what amounts to as a 'new plan' that is any more than the same old mode of building networks that integrate with the user in the same way everyone else is doing it. C-RAN does not work the same magic here because the deployment scenario, in many cases, is different.
What plan, what details, what outcome is expected, when?
Although the overall credit market is not typically of that much concern, it has become so for Sprint: Sprint needs to rollover its maturing debt, something that was long expected. When Softbank acquired Sprint one of the goals laid out, based on the wise advice (sic) of folks at Goldman Sachs and others who aided SB, was to refinance Sprint's high debt rates to lower levels. However, part of that was based on analysis that thought Sprint could be turned around within a couple of years with much better financials. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Sprint finds itself wanting to payoff the maturing debt with lower interest rate debt but may very well find few takers even at the same or higher rate. If forced to higher rates, the debt stranglehold grows even tighter. The way out was supposed to be higher growth in subs and revenue that would fuel strongly positive cash flows. No, that isn't a joke.
Cramer is only about six months late in saying that.not always (or often) the brightest bulb in investment circles.
What had been happening over the past 15+ years is that many companies have am massed high levels of debt. That trends grew gradually in the 70's, 80's and 90's then accelerated with the Internet bubble that saw hundreds of millions to billions poured in ill fated startups and projects such as MMDS/LNDS in the wireless space. Once the Internet bubble got into full swing, companies in other sectors including closely related telecommunications took advantage of the bubbling of capital markets as if to say, "Heck, Internet companies with little sales and projections of several years of losses are selling billions in debt instruments to chase fancifully exciting goals for growth. Our industry looks techy and with exciting growth prospects, let's grab some of those billions and try to use it to build services... in the meantime we and our buddies will be at the top of larger debt swelled companies.. and we get to trigger big stock options to boot!"
Then as many companies failed and growth prospect for others dimmed, the credit ratings and industry and market growth expectations cooled. That resulted in companies like Sprint being threatened with collapse under the weight of their debt which declined to junk bond status with high interest rates.
The bond market bifurcated: on the safe side bonds netted unexciting low interest rates. On the sub-investment end the returns were high to go along with the risks. Thus it rained on the high yield side ... until it started looking like the party might end.
This is international with the fattest examples being national debt collapse in Spain, Greece, etc. Money chased after high yields expecting growth to absorb the excesses.
Now the bifurcation of world economy has deflationary downturn in industry, raw materials, core markets ie. China while the indebted countries and companies need high growth.
Good question. Why did Softbank acquire 80% of Sprint in the first place? Because Softbank had acquired a series of telecommunications companies in Japan, wireless spectrum, wireless smallcell Local Loop (Willcom) which set the comp[any up to acquire Vodafone Japan. The sum of these and similar actions gave Softbank a range of low, 800MHz, mid and high band (2.5GHz) mobile spectrum. Besides that, Softbank started years earlier to acquire and build fiber optic and landline networks that could then be used to support the CRAN and smallcell deployments using their mobile spectrum. That is very important to understand: 2.5GHz is more cheaply and easily exploited if you have both other spectrum bands to provide wide coverage at low cost and the high capacity fiber optic and other fronthaul/backhaul infrastructure.
With that skillfully put together assemblage of foundation network assets, Softbank was able to build the precursor LTE network using 2.5GHz at relatively low cost... about 1/6th the cost of building a similarly dense network here in the USA. Some of that lower cost is due to the fact Japan is an island country with most of its population gathered in a few metro areas vs. the US where much more of the population in suburban to rural and spread out over wide areas.
The point I'm getting at is that Softbank had glorious success exploiting 2.5GHz in Japan and that became the backdrop to acquiring Sprint with misguided hopes of doing the same thing in the USA. The problem in the US is complex: it includes lack of openly available fiber optic to the node to support smallcells and CRAN network architectures. Sprint lacks a similar depth of low and mid band spectrum. It doesn't have the deployed smallcells that SB got with the WiLLcom acquisition.. that were then re-deployed with 3G+4G and WiFi multicarrier smallcells.
Softbank/Masa Son figured they could turn around Sprint similar to bldg. a network in Japan. The details were per above much different.
Since posting this in July, Sprint did break support, went down to the next support, broke that, and went down to new lows near 3. More recently, I posted Sprint had reached a short-term oversold condition and said to place limit orders to buy upon moving higher, using trade platforms to program trade if available. Then place trailing stop-loss orders based on the stock's high beta.
More recently it was suggested to take profits when #$%$ the 5.20 level by selling or selling covered calls, which, by the way, can now be bought back for a fraction of the 30c-60c+ they would have been sold at when the 5 stock options were 'in the money'.
In late August I posted "Sprint (S) has since pulled back to the 4.50 level. The chart suggests it will probably settle into a range between 3.85 and 4.95 which is a nice swing trading range. Besides the technical support that has formed at ~3.85, Softbank is likely to shore up the stock against steep declines" Since then the stock moved down and then down further upon a Moody's downgrade in corporate debt rating.
At this point, the earlier prediction that Sprint would move over a wide range has been shown but the stock has yet to prove the bottom of that range. Unless there is more bad news, the outlook remains for 3.85 to be a support level. Sprint (S) may move down towards or slightly above/below that level. As with trading most reversalswing situations, placing of conditional orders, ie. once it moves down to that support, placing buy orders upon S moving above the breakout level.
So: Place conditioned orders for ST trades if the current price level holds or when S moves down to support near 3.85. Then place trailing stop-loss orders
What else might DISH do with its spectrum and subscribers? Mentioned many times, DISH might either sell or lease portions of its spectrum to Verizon and other operators. Verizon is mentioned because it holds the lowest amount of Hertz/area/subscriber of any national carrier.Think about that: Verizon is the nation's number 1 retail carrier yet holds the least amount of spectrum per subscriber per area. What has enabled Verizon to become and stay the market leader is how they have built their network including the nature of the spectrum they hold, the largest extent of low band, and arguably the best use of 4G and beyond network technologies. Effective design and deployment methods has contributed to Verizon having become the most profitable US operator while holding the top spot in consumer satisfaction. While Verizon has led in the use of LTE technology networks including use of smallcells, the company is seen as running short of spectrum regardless of that shift to smaller cells and '5G' advances such as eICIC CoMP expected to start to take place over the next few years. That implies Verizon will be both likely to acquire more low band at the upcoming 600MH auction and also acquire spectrum or the rights to use it through leasing or, less likely, shared infrastructure (networks and fronthaul/backhaul).
DISH and Sprint's problem is that Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint do not appear eager to pay a premium for DISH (or S's) spectrum. Advances in technology and the couple hundred MHz of unlicensed spectrum offer a way forward for Verizon and other operators exclusive of acquiring more than currently expected to be available spectrum.
You read into my post finer details than was intended: the salient point is that Sprint is in debt to to the extent that they cannot meet obligations to meet debt retirement payments due starting next year and also expand network coverage needed to become competitive to the point of growing subscriber and net revenue marketshare.
Yahoo! lists Sprint's (S) debt at (mrq): $34.13B not accounting for short term obligations of over $3B
NASDAQ website lists Sprint's long term debt at $32.74B that leaves out obligations that are rolling up
The assessment that the generalized term 'debt' is closer to $36-$37 billion is in the ballpark. Rather than quibble over the exact amount, investors should ask, similar to financial analysts and rating agencies, how Sprint will meet repayment obligations. Being in debt is a normal thing for US companies, government and citizens. It is a fun game unless the debt comes due and can't be paid back. That is when the repo man shows up.
How and when will Sprint grow their way out of debt? Or how can Sprint cut costs to the extent needed to turn profitable while maintaining competitive investments in networks and services? And how does Sprint do whatever it is while keeping current investors whole.. not causing dilution or further decline of the stock?
T-Mobile does not need DISH because they have sufficient mid-band spectrum and do not need to be acquired to move forward. Charlie Ergen is unlikely to sell DISH and the cost would be more than TMUS would want to pay if he did. And Ergen does not have the funding to acquire TMUS outright.. but he might be able to acquire Sprint or a good part of Sprint. The problem with that is that Sprint is saddled with debt that does not look attractive in formulating a go-forward plan.
A deal with DISH does pose a higher risk of closing off a deal by Comcast to acquire either Sprint or T-Mobile. However, what is DISH going to do? The satellite business is a cash cow and may continue to be so for several years. However, satellite growth is dead and it will be eclipsed by mobile networks.
The industry now finds itself in the award position of trying to figure out how to fashion the next generation or wave of wireless from a myriad of choices. It has established basic performance goals such as very low latency, tight timing for coordinated networks, and very long battery life for M2M/IoT applications but remains undecided on choices to get there. It is not so much a problem of technical difficulties as it is making choices that the world of suppliers and operators agree upon. What comes out of that is that the 'next wave' will deliver performance that matches wireline bandwidths and that means that cable and satellite must fit in as auxiliary services. Cable will have to merge with wireless or its days are numbered... in years mind you but it is clearly coming.
As T-Mobile's business has improved, the majority stakeholder, Deutsche Telekom, has, unremarkably, changed their tune from wanting to sell TMUS to wanting to let their bet ride or hold out for a high bid. Sprint is nearly bankrupt and will not be buying T-Mobile, a cable operator, or DISH. I am tempted to post a joke about what Sprint can afford to acquire at this point but will leave it to the imagination.
T-Mobile might be headed towards slowing growth: Thus far they have defied the expectations of most analysts by continuing to grow at a heady pace. However, T-Mobile's network and ability to stretch into corporate, automotive, government and other markets is limited. They can go after, as they have been doing, the small-mid size business market. However, TMUS may be near a near term hiatus in growth until they bring on AWS followed by upcoming 600MHz. Anyway, the trend is favorable until its not... which is observable.
DT's CEO said that they would prefer to hook up with Comcast rather than Sprint. That was some time ago during which Sprint has continued to decline relative to TMUS.. so you'd expect DT to think that more so now. I don't see who might want to acquire Sprint other than Comcast but that company has made no public recent overtures and T-Mobile looks the better prospect.
I think Masa Son will be fishing to sell off Sprint unless a miracle occurs. If nothing happens, S could become among the largest corporate failures in history.
Or, Sprint acquired Nextel Netwrecks making several old chums very wealthy. Some sit on BODs or are retired by now... probably investing in the next Internet social ecommerce startups along with Masa Son's Softbank. Who knows, as I posted years ago, maybe some of the same folks participated in loans to Sprint and then shorted the stock to hedge their investment... and because they knew the formation of Sprint Nextel was flawed from the get go. Why not? Then the strategy seems to have been to misdirect Sprint through a series of calamitous decisions designed to end the company into debt while securing a fortune from the shorted positions and junk bound high interest rates. That seems plausible. Sprint has been brain dead all these years... and then Masa Son's big ego, despite experience as a Zen Master, set Softbank up to become Sprint's savior. .. only it was already too late. Short sellers did not believe it.. they remained short, only lightening up with the prospect that Softbank might be able to acquire T-Mobile to fashion a more competitive scale of operations while also changing the overemphasis on 2.5GHz.
Softbank's efforts to bail out their 80% stake in Sprint is only good if they can perform a miracle in achieving growth. It appears to be too little, too late.. by about five years. Now claure is doing what comes naturally, talking about selling the company to a cable company. Makes sense.. and I can imagine what Comcast and Charter management and BODs are thinking.. "Let them hang from a string"... we can offer less as this late gambit proves to fail.
The results are what investors look for. If Sprint turns around, so be it. You shold be watching for early indicators and buy or sell for the next move... there is no Facebook like/dislike button on stock investments.
Here we go.. the lame excuse of losers and stock board promoters or company PR paid pumpers.
Let's get something straight: In the first place this board is here to post information and opinions which nobody in their right mind should use without filtering it through their own thought process. It is your money to win or lose not some other fellow idiot's decision. Secondly, what I said is clear.. your response is to bash me, not the facts of the situation. Nobody, not Claure or Masa Son or anyone else, can deny Sprint finds itself in need of being first in networks across the country, not just in some metro areas.. or otherwise having demonstrated much better results. Time is running out for repayment of debt. I have posted that for years. I've posted why the network strategy would fail and it did. The results of that strategy are exactly what I said they would be before Sprint began deploying WiMAX and continued with the same strategy to deploy LTE. Insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results.. showing Sprint has been an insane operator.
I've also said Sprint (S) is a 'trading vehicle' that could be used to make money.. and I've shown how that is done with clear instructions on when to buy and sell/take profits. S remains a trading stock unless you have been a long term short, thus far the winning side of the bull vs bear debate.
I don't expect you to like what I say because, apparently, you lost money being long.
Softbank-Sprint have yet to show a plan that will turn the business around to the degree needed. They probably will show more substantial growth but it won't be enough.. I said that two quarters ago and Sprint proved me overly optimistic.
I am being impartial: Longs have been deceitful as is evidenced by the long decline of the stock while longs urged others to buy the stock. The facts speak plainly for themselves. I have said Sprint had been failing and had pursued errant network strategies.. all that can now be seen in the results. I've also said that Sprint has shwon marked improvement in network quality and could be expected to show more improvement. However, that is controverted by the fact the company has debt payments coming due that they do not have the cash to pay for while, at the same time, need that missing capital to build out denser networks. What part of that do you fail to grok?
LOL! You fail to get it the same way that your fellow perpetual longs have failed to get it over the past several years: Sprint has run out of money burned up pursuing the strategy you say will be their saving grace... wrong dead head.
The problem is that what you/Sprint prescribes is not what the majority of the market wants and is no longer the exclusive domain for Sprint to puruse. Sprint has the lowest bandwidth-to-coverage of major US operators. With more spectrum due to come online in competitors networks, the gap will remain. Sprint delivers a 'lumpy gravy coverage' strategy that has failed miserably to galvanize sales. Repeating the same thing using technologies available to all of its competitors while depleting cash needed to pay off maturing debt is not a winning strategy.. at best it is make-do until someone comes along willing to acquire Sprint at a fire sale price.
You fail to understand technology, business fundamentals or common sense. The results have been that longs have lost money over the past decade of Sprint's decline during which idiots like yourself have repeated the mantra of brain dead management that building dense networks using new technology will save their buttangos. It has not done so. The way out, or what was the way out, was to have users deploy the first mile layer of a tiered network, resulting in 1/3 the cost of a commonly deployed base station or smallcell network. However, it is too late for that initiative to be brought fro the ground up, replenish diminished capital needed to pay off debts and secure more favorable financing of remaining debt. The problem remains too little too late.. lumpy gravy high bandwidth in core metro areas, weak in suburban to rural.
Consequence is Softbank is not gaining enough ground to want to hold onto Sprint and will likely sell it for a loss to breakeven, which would amount to a loss once time and lost opportunity are considered.
No, I did not say that did I? Verizon and AT&T currently hold the majority of useful sub 1GHz spectrum. While they have motivation to hold onto their supremacy in low band spectrum because that helps them retain their ~70% mobile marketshare, they can't bid on the 30MHz that is set aside for the 'others' and have less of a benefit to achieve by pushing for early deployment. T-Mobile and Sprint both have less suburban to rural coverage: low band spectrum can help change that because it requires 1/3 to 1/2 the spread of base stations as mid to high band spectrum to achieve coverage. With wider channels in the low band, higher bandwidth can be achieved even though the coverage is shared over a wider area. Low band also helps to achieve up to 4x better coverage inside of buildings.
T-Mobile has less rural coverage than its chief competitors and marginally less than Sprint. So, they are likely to try to press 600MHz into use ASAP.. provided they are successful in bidding on it. Since Sprint is not participating, TMUS is more assured of acquiring 30MHz or more. 40-50MHz in addition to the 700MHz they currently hold would 'set them up for life'. That amount would bring them into rough parity with Verizon and AT&T.
Sprint, meanwhile, may be well suited to be acquired by Comcast or Charter.
Any article or report that says Sprint will 'save' $4 billion is a misrepresentation of the facts. Sprint leases other than the Apple iPhone, thus all of the $6 billion is not subject to third party leasing at this juncture. Sprint has less percentage of sales in iPhone than AT&T and Verizon. Therefore, the plan might have a higher percentage of sales impact on the two largest players. As the 'other side of the story' first presented suggests, the impact of this and other trends may be to accelerate the pace of turnover in devices and lower the turnover of used devices, thus helping to drive down the price of returned devices that are refurbished (likely by Claure's former company Brightstar), and resold.
The wherefores and whens of this situation are far from being one-sided in favor of Sprint or TMUS. The weaker players might be seen to benefit because they have the tightest cash flows. However, like any other form of money flow, it all depends on how the increased capital made available is put to work to either result in profits or losses. It is an acceleration of cash flows that can will result in creating more 'turns' of the company's available credit. If the marginal return on investment is negative, that accelerates the burn rate. If positive, that accelerates the return on investment and helps result in bottom line higher profit/loss.
One aspect of the competitive landscape that looms on the near term horizon is the 600MHz 'incentive auction'. This is auctioning of spectrum held over the air TV stations or held and unused. The unused portions are more numerous in rural areas. However, even in the most populous areas of the country spectrum designated for use by TV channels goes unused or used only part of the time. The incentive auction allows the holders of the spectrum, who, by the way, never paid for licenses, to offer it up for auction for a share of the proceeds. This is the first time this approach has been tried and it remains speculative just how much spectrum will be put up for bids. Since OTA TV is seeing diminished use which makes it less and less attractive to advertisers, at 80MHz or more is expected to be offered. Closest thing to 'free money' I've seen in recent years. Your spectrum gifted to TV broadcasters sold to mobile operators for a share of money otherwise that should be used for public debt or gov't spending. Cool.. if you are a TV broadcaster.
After the auction, expected early in 2016, the FCC will study the details of the allocations with operators and broadcasters and devise a plan for freeing up the spectrum for use. That process will take several months... then the detailed engineering and field work can start. Some of the spectrum may be put to use within just 12-18 months while much of it may take 2-3 years or longer. Claure is right, it will be about 4 years before it is deployed to have a competitive impact. However, that is not certain to be the case: T-Mobile could, potentially, acquire spectrum that is easier and quicker to clear and deploy.. since they might be seen to benefit the most and would likely push for access ASAP.
It is incorrect to say that leasing can 'save' Sprint or any other operator billions of dollars. You should have a brain capacity capable of understanding this better: Leasing from a third party shifts the payment for the device in by, roughly, half of the duration of the lease. If an operator is currently tying up $4 billion that is required to buy devices from suppliers to place into inventory and then sell under a long term contract (subsidized device sale) or leased internally over, say 2 years, then a shift of the full amount of those cash flows would result in brining in of $4 billion up front, less a discount for interest and other costs of the lease arrangement. The operator is not 'saving' $4 billion.. they are reducing the amount of capital required to be tied up.
Again, each thing an operator does that has a material impact on their business has to be considered from the perspective of how that impacts their competitive position. If the thing is unique to that operator then the evaluation is simply about figuring what the cost/benefit analysis may be. However, all operators are now leasing devices and all can be expected to take advantage of lease arrangements from Apple or other major suppliers. In many cases customers will decide how to buy or lease their devices because, by law/regulation, operators must provide open devices and allow them onto their network. A customer who leases an open device from Apple may activate it on Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T's network. Apple decided to use designs that will work across all US operators. In that case the operator would not get the upfront revenue.. only the service charges. Therefore, there would be no pull in of device revenue of sales made directly by the supplier unless it goes through the operator first.
No operator will see their cash flows shift overnight. Sprint will not see a $4 billion rollup of cash flows. Likely it will be very much less. The competitive advantage is overhyped.