Sprint (S) is probably not a viable standalone company any more. It laid off 8,000 people yesterday and said it may outsource some of its work to cover for the drop in employees.
That is not the worst of it. Sprint is still losing market share to AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) (VOD) Wireless Both of those companies are financial stronger than Sprint and most wireless consumers believe that Sprint has poor customer sevice.
On many days, Sprint’s stock is below $2. Its 52-week high is almost $11. The company’s market cap is down to $7 billion It has $21 billion in long-term debt.
If the recession cuts even further into the number of cellular subscribers that Sprint has, it may end up losing money. Combined with debt service, that puts the company is a position where it either has to consider Chapter 11 or find a buyer.
There are two logical acquirers for Sprint. The first is large Korean telecom company SK Telecom. The other is Deuteche Telekom (DT) which owns the No.4 cellular company in the US, T-Mobile. Putting T-Mobile together with Sprint would create some scale to compete with the two giants in the market.
Buying Sprint has a special benefit for any company that believe that fast 4G wireless will eventuall replace the 3G systems used in the US today. Sprint has the US franchise for WiMax, which is considered one fo the most promising 4G technologies. If it gain customers, it may steal a march on AT&T and Verizon and get give Spint something to use to pick up market share.