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Sprint's (NYSE:S) iPhone 5 Risks Don't Include Bankruptcy


Bankruptcy is off the table for Sprint (NYSE:S). As it struggles to compete for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 profits with larger telecoms AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), at least Sprint doesn't have to worry about the most vocal telecom bear on Wall Street raising the prospect of doom for the company.

After assigning a 50% likelihood in March that Sprint would end up in bankruptcy as it raced to build a national wireless network to handle smartphones like the iPhone 5 and compete with stronger carriers -- and citing bond trading prices -- telecom sector bear Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research now says that readily available financing makes that prospect remote. However, amid a 100%-plus stock rise for Sprint in 2012, Moffett says that even if bankruptcy is not a near-term risk for Sprint shareholders, significant risks remain.

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Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint's fortunes will rise or fall depending on how it handles Apple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 5, argues Moffett in a Sept. 27 research note.

In a best case scenario, the company's unlimited data plans may appeal to data-hungry iPhone users and the continued rollout of its upgraded national LTE network will ably handle surging network loads.

He maintains a bearish view on the company, though, questioning whether Sprint's network can handle iPhone 5 data loads or whether profit margins can be maintained.

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