There's no denying it: Sprint is in the midst of a big comeback as its stock outperforms the competition. It's even posting a bigger improvement than Apple this year.
With its share rising more than 140 percent in 2012, Sprint's stock is up more than all but one other stock in the S&P 500 Index, according to Yankee Group. This news has analysts wondering if the company can, in fact, catch up to its major competitors: Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
Rich Karpinski, Yankee Group senior analyst, said several of Sprint's key projects will either "make or break its prospects moving forward."
"... It faces a challenge selling the new iPhone 5 versus operators with more extensive LTE footprints," Karpinski noted. "... But the next few quarters will tell the real tale, cementing Sprint’s place in the U.S. market (either alone or via consolidation with rivals). It is well-positioned to set off on this next part of [its] turnaround journey."
Karpinski also said Sprint's plan of expanding LTE to an additional 100 cities could help the company keep up in upcoming quarters.
By 2014, Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse predicts the company will see a profit growth once again, according to Bloomberg. After the company's investment in the iPhone last year, Sprint finally saw an increase in number of customers, customer spending, and most importantly, company revenue.
Sprint was once considered the leader in the wireless industry. But an ill-fated acquisition of Nextel and a joint venture with Clearwire that resulted in serious financial issues created major setbacks for the company. After that, "customer care took a hit," E-Commerce Times pointed out, while the new purchases caused Sprint to struggle financially and lose many of its customers.
Now, with Hesse in his fifth year at the company, and improved customer care, Sprint has taken a big step forward.
Last year, an expensive network upgrade and the purchase of Apple's iPhone could have wreaked serious havoc on the company; however, the highly sought-after phone ended up helping Sprint advance in its recovery period.
Sprint will pitch the outdated Nextel network and install LTE technology, Hesse told Bloomberg, and eventually the company's growth via an increase in customers will expand profit margins.
When Sprint's LTE network is complete and the company experiences the full impact of its iPhone commitment, Sprint's future may become clearer.