Sprint (S) seems to be hurting if the numbers are any indication – what could the number three wireless carrier’s woes mean to the telecom exchange traded funds (ETFs)?

In short, the carrier needs more customers, reports Laura M. Holson for the New York Times. In the first quarter, they lost 1.1 million subscribers. And churn, a measure of customer turnover and an indicator of how unhappy they are, rose from 2.3% to 2.45%.

On top of all that is strong competition from Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T).

Sprint is making efforts to turn things around. It will offer the Samsung Instinct to existing customers in June, and the phone is the company’s answer to the iPhone. It’s also planning simpler voice and data plans this year.

But will the company just leave telecom ETFs holding the line, or can the stronger performance of AT&T and Verizon keep them moving? AT&T announced its earnings on April 22, and they were in line with what had been forecast by Wall Street. Verizon’s earnings came out on April 28, and they were also in line with expectations. The company experienced strong growth in fiber-optic services in particular.

  • Telecom HOLDRs (TTH): down 10.4% year-to-date; Sprint is 3.9%; Verizon is 25.6%; AT&P is 56.9%
  • iShares Dow Jones US Telecom (IYZ): down 11.4% ytd; Sprint is 7.5%; Verizon is 15%; AT&T is 23.3%
  • Vanguard Telecom Services (VOX): down 10.7% ytd; Sprint is 4.3%; AT&T is 22.5%; Verizon is 20.7%


The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.