Embattled wireless company Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will add 5,000 jobs in the United States, a decision President-elect Donald Trump took credit for. Some will come from overseas to the United States and therefore are not real additions. The increase announcement does not take into account the huge employee cuts Sprint has made as the number of its subscriber accounts has fallen, and the company slipped into fourth place in the American market based on subscriber count. Sprint’s most recent layoffs of 2,500 were disclosed earlier this year.
The 2016 layoffs were not the only ones Sprint announced recently. It fired 2,000 people in late 2004. At the time, analysts blamed a failed merger attempt with T-Mobile US Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS), which has gone on to be a wildly successful standalone company. Sprint suffered ongoing customer defections. It also has had a reputation for poor customer service that dates back years. The 24/7 Wall St. 2016 Customer Service Hall of Shame ranked Sprint as the second to worst company in America.
One has to wonder about the sustainability of the Sprint job additions. Sprint lost $444 million in the first nine months of 2016. The number is terrible, but is at least an improvement over the $605 million it lost in the same period of 2015. Very few analysts believe Sprint is anywhere close to a period of sustained profitability.
Yet, it is worth mentioning that the stock market likes Sprint’s short-term prospects. Its shares are up 140% to $8.72 so far this year. But it remains one of the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Sprint does have a very tall wall to climb to compete with rivals T-Mobile, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Verizon and AT&T have balance sheets and subscriber counts Sprint cannot hope to match. In a period of free data, subsidized phone prices and massive ad budgets, Sprint is outgunned.
Sprint may be about to add 5,000 jobs, but they barely fill an employee hole the company has dug over that past two years. And the company’s employment picture looks bleak over the long term.