Sprint posts 3Q profit thanks to investment gain

The Sprint logo is seen on the side of their Fifth Avenue store 15 January, 2008 in New York. Reports are saying that Sprint Nextel Corporation's new chief executive plans to lay off several thousand workers as part of an effort to reduce costs. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. Sprint Corp. (S), the third-largest U.S. Wireless carrier, said Wednesday that it earned a profit in the third quarter thanks to a one-time gain from its previous investment in Clearwire Corp., even as revenue inched lower.

Japanese investment firm SoftBank Corp. acquired a majority stake in Sprint in July. This was the company's second quarterly report since the deal closed.

Sprint earned $383 million in the latest quarter. A year earlier, it booked a net loss of $767 million.

Excluding items such as a gain of $1.4 billion related to Sprint's previous investment in Clearwire, Sprint would have posted a loss of $398 million, compared with an adjusted loss of $231 million for the 2012 third quarter.

Revenue slid 1 percent to $8.68 billion from $8.76 billion last year.

Analysts, on average, were expecting a net loss of $849.3 million, on revenue of $8.8 billion, according to FactSet.

Sprint ended the quarter with 54.9 million subscribers, up from 53.6 million at the end of June, but below the 56 million it had a year ago.

SoftBank's acquisition of 78 percent of Sprint closed on July 10, but the firm's courtship of Sprint had financial effects long before that. Softbank lent Sprint money that enabled it to launch a bid to buy out the minority shareholders of Clearwire, a wireless broadband network operator. Sprint already owned a majority of Clearwire, and will now be able to integrate its vast spectrum holdings with its own, for faster broadband speeds and higher capacities in the future.

Sprint also shut off its Nextel service earlier this year.

Sprint's shares fell 9 cents, to $6.59 in morning trading. The stock is flat for the year.