Sprint’s Claure praised for $5B in cost cuts—with more on the way

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure “deserves praise for succeeding where those before him had failed.” Over the past three years, he explained, Sprint has cut its cost base by roughly $5 billion through initiatives including the shutdown of Sprint’s WiMAX network, discounting Sprint’s NASCAR sponsorship and layoffs.

And, Piecyk noted, more cuts are on the way.

“We expect to take out a couple of billion dollars of cost,” Sprint’s Claure said during a recent appearance at an investor conference, in comments transcribed by Seeking Alpha and noted by Piecyk. “We are going to invest this year in densification our network. We are going to invest this year in our expanding our distribution. We are going to do some massive investment. But even after that we expect to bring, I would say, anywhere between $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion of net cost reduction after the expenses that we have done. So nothing, I mean, there is still—and then the year later and the year later there is still room to take out when you look at the company like Sprint.”

Piecyk in a post today said (reg. req.) Claure’s latest cuts are $300-$500 million higher than his previous expectations. He added that the cuts will be partially offset by Sprint’s growth efforts, including the company’s plans to open new stores and densify its network.

Indeed, Sprint’s CFO recently promised the carrier would double its spending on its network this year after cutting it back dramatically in 2016. Specifically, Sprint’s Tarek Robbiati said Sprint would spend $3.5 billion to $4 billion each of the next three years “as we ramp up our densification and utilize the expanded toolbox of the various cost-efficient coverage and capacity options,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of Sprint’s recently quarterly earnings call.

If Sprint’s CEO is able to still cut costs amid that spending, “this would truly be another impressive feat by Claure,” Piecyk said.

As a result of Claure’s promised cuts, Piecyk said BTIG is raising its price target to $3.85 from $2.85 on Sprint, and is maintaining its sell rating.

Of course, overshadowing all Claure’s efforts at Sprint are expectations that the carrier will ink some kind of merger agreement with T-Mobile. Claure has openly acknowledged the potential benefits to a tie-up between the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless network operators.

“Having a company almost the size of AT&T and Verizon, in which you combine the two mavericks and you create a turbocharged maverick that will continue to fight for consumers, but now with a different scale, the synergies are pretty interesting,” he said at a recent investor event.