Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), the third- largest U.S. wireless carrier, reported third quarter losses of $767 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with a loss of $301 million, or 10 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue gained 5.2 percent to $8.76 billion. Analysts were expecting a loss of 42 cents a share on revenue of $8.81 billion.

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Wireless

According to the report of Nomura equity research, Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) lost 456k total postpaid subscribers, worse than their analysts estimate of 295k and consensus of 314k. Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) recaptured 59% of disconnecting iDEN subscribers, leaving organic CDMA net losses of 106k versus analysts’ estimate of 10k losses. Total postpaid churn was 2.09%, just above research firm’s consensus-matching estimate of 2.00%. Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) activated 1.5mn iPhones during the quarter, with an industry-leading 40% of those going to new subscribers.

Wireless service revenue of $7.3bn met analysts’ estimate and grew 5.7% y/y. Wireless postpaid ARPU was $61.18, in line with  analysts $61.11 estimate. Normalized Wireless EBITDA of $1.1bn and service margin of 15.3% were well ahead of analysts $983mn / 13.5% estimates and consensus of $996mn / 13.7%, respectively. Excluding the dilutive impact of Network Vision, which is expected to be heard about on the call, Wireless service EBITDA margins likely neared 18%, equal to 3Q11 despite the additional cost of 1.5mn iPhones this quarter.

Wireline

Wireline revenue was $939mn vs. analysts estimate of $970mn and consensus of $967mn. Wireline EBITDA and margin were $158mn and 16.8%, respectively, above analysts and consensus margin estimate of 15%.

According to BAML,  Sprint’s results are supportive of their beat and raise thesis, and post-paid metrics were better than the growing wave of skepticism following strong Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) results.

Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) shares rose 4 cents to $5.66 in pre-market trading.