Sprint loses fewer subscribers than expected on cheaper phone plans

FILE PHOTO: A Sprint sign is seen on top of a Sprint retail store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

(Reuters) – Sprint Corp said on Monday it lost fewer mobile monthly post-paid phone subscribers than expected in the third quarter, benefiting from cheaper plans ahead of a merger with larger rival T-Mobile US.

The company said it lost 115,000 postpaid phone subscribers during the quarter ended Dec 31. Analysts were expecting a net loss of 160,000 subscribers, according to research firm FactSet.

Sprint, the fourth largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers, is facing a multi-state lawsuit against its $26-billion proposed merger with larger rival T-Mobile US Inc.

T-Mobile and Sprint have said the merger will not lead to higher prices for consumers and would allow it to compete effectively with dominant carriers Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N and AT&T Inc.

Net loss attributable to the company fell to $120 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from $141 million a year earlier. The current quarter included a non-cash tax benefit of approximately $300 million to reduce the valuation allowance related to certain historic net operating loss carry forwards.

The company reported an adjusted loss of 8 cents per share for the quarter, missing analyst’s forecasts for a loss of 5 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total net operating revenue fell 6.1% to $8.08 billion, missing analysts’ estimate of $8.22 billion.

Shares of the company were little changed at $4.84 in trading before the bell.

Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru’ and Arriana McLymore in New York.; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski

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