(Company corrects Feb 24 story to say it expects its total subscriber base of 688,000 to triple, instead of its WiMax subscriber base of 438,000)
An edited, corrected version follows.
* Q4 shr loss $0.55 vs pro forma shr $0.47 year ago
* Q4 rev $79.9 million vs Wall St view $76.4 mln
* Adds 87k retail subs, sees total customers tripling
* Clearwire shares down 0.4 percent (Adds analyst and executive comment, outlook, share price)
NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Clearwire Corp CLWR.O posted a quarterly loss on Wednesday as it spent heavily on expanding its high-speed wireless network, but its revenue was ahead of Wall Street expectations on strong customer growth.
Analysts were very impressed that the company had 87,000 net new retail customers and said the majority of its 46,000 wholesale customers were added in the quarter.
“The top line subscriber growth numbers were extremely strong.” said Soleil Securities analyst Michael Nelson, who had expected 45,000 new retail customers and in the quarter.
Clearwire, which is majority owned by Sprint Nextel Corp S.N, wants a head start on offering the highest speed wireless data services ahead of bigger rivals Verizon Wireless, which is starting its network upgrade this year, and AT&T Inc T.N, which starts in 2011.
The company posted a loss of $98.7 million, or 55 cents per share, compared with a pro forma loss of $90.4 million, or 47 cents per share in the same quarter the year before.
The year-earlier number assumes that Clearwire’s venture with Sprint had been in place for a full quarter. The deal actually closed on Nov. 28, 2008.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose to $79.9 million from $59.7 million the year before. The average expectation was $76.4 million, as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
HIGH-SPEED SUBS TO TRIPLE
These companies use Clearwire’s high-speed network to offer services to their own customers on a wholesale basis.
Including wholesale, Clearwire expects its total customer base to triple this year from 688,000 at the end of the fourth quarter, implying about 2.06 million customers.
Chief Executive Bill Morrow said about half of these customers are expected to come from wholesale partners, which will eventually represent the bulk of Clearwire customers.
Clearwire said 2010 average monthly revenue per user would remain flat with 2009 since customer growth will be offset by new customer price discounts for their first months.
It forecast net cash spending for 2010 between $2.8 billion and $3.2 billion.
While current services connect computing devices such as laptops, Morrow promised a cellphone that works on the WiMax network for for the second half of 2010.
Clearwire shares slipped 4 cents to $6.94 in Nasdaq trading. (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Derek Caney and Maureen Bavdek)