News that the chairman of Sprint Corp. suggested that the company could be put up for sale hasn’t seemed to bother investors: In the hours following today’s news reports about the comments made by chairman Masayoshi Son, the company’s stock rose by more than 4 percent. In early-afternoon trading, Sprint shares were up 34 cents, to $8.68. That extends a winning streak that’s been running since Nov. 8, when it stood at $6.27, an improvement of 38.4 percent.
Son is CEO of SoftBank, Sprint’s Japanese parent, and his comments came earlier Wednesday in briefing for investors and analysts following release of the company’s first-quarter financials. SoftBank’s improving finanacial position in that quarter was attributed in large part to cost-saving measures put in place at the Overland Park telecom giant. A sale of Sprint, however, is but one option, Son said: SoftBank might also consider a new attempt to acquire T-Mobile, or align with other companies to bolster Sprint’s standing in that sector.
SoftBank Group Corp. owns 83 percent of Sprint, increasing its stake since it acquired controlling interest in 2013. Just a year later, U.S. regulators slammed the door on discussions about buying T-Mobile, a move that industry analysts have said might be the best way to ensure long-term viability for both.
Earlier feelers to sell Sprint yielded no interest, Son said, according to translations of the meeting, “so we had no choice but we had to turn it around by itself.” With that in place, Sprint is a more attractive company either in a sale or as a strategic partner in a merger. “We may be dealing with T-Mobile” again, he said. “We may be dealing with a totally different company.” Or, Sprint could continue to stand on its own.