Sprint reports quarterly profit, appoints new CEO

(Reuters) - U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp S.N on Wednesday posted net annual income for the first time in 11 years and named a new chief executive ahead of its proposed $26 billion merger with bigger rival T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.O.

The Sprint logo is displayed on a a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Michel Combes, Sprint's chief financial officer, will take the top job on May 31, replacing CEO Marcelo Claure, who will become chief operating officer at Sprint's controlling shareholder SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T and executive chairman of Sprint.

The No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier added 39,000 phone customers who pay a monthly bill during the fourth quarter ended March 31, compared with losses of 118,000 customers a year earlier.

Shares of Sprint edged up less than 1 percent to $5.21 after the bell.

MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note that Sprint’s average revenue per user was still falling despite subscriber growth, suggesting it might not remain profitable.

“Now, they face a steep uphill climb of new network investment, and they will be back to burning cash,” Moffett wrote.

Sprint reported a profit of $69 million, or 2 cents per share, compared with a loss of $283 million, or 7 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had expected a loss of 7 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net operating revenue fell to $8.09 billion from $8.54 billion over the same period.

Sprint and T-Mobile said on Sunday they had agreed to an all-stock merger which would better prepare them to create the next-generation wireless network.

In a post-earnings call, Claure told investors that he and T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere were pleased that regulators had received them with “an open mind” during meetings this week in Washington.

“We’re both aligned to put our best foot forward in terms of getting this transaction approved,” Claure said.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Jonathan Oatis