October 25, 2011
In the wake of Sprint’s Network Vision roll-out debacle, the heat is really on CEO Dan Hesse as he prepares for the company’s Third Quarter Earnings release.
It’s bad enough that the analysts in the audience actually laughed when one sardonically observed, “I’d be lying if I said I followed a lot of what was going on in those slides.” Hesse’s problems only got worse as analyst after analyst peppered him with questions he either could not or was unwilling to answer, culminating with applause from the audience to a questioner’s outburst that one of his answers “seem ridiculous.”
After the roll-out, things got even worse. Scathing reviews from analysts, bloggers and the financial press, forced Sprint’s Chairman James Hance to attempt some damage control. Hance admitted that the company made a “mistake” by not being fully prepared to answer analysts’ questions about the iPhone and the company’s liquidity position. “We will talk about the impact when we talk about the third-quarter earnings,” said Hance during an interview with Bloomberg.
In any case, Hesse is definitely on the hot seat now, mostly as a result of his own doing.
He projected Sprint’s Network Vision as a magic turnaround bullet and invited intense anticipation for its official launch. But the roll-out was delayed from the spring to the summer and then finally October. In the end, Hesse’s team created enormous expectations which they obviously failed to meet.
And while Sprint should have been focusing on getting the company’s Network Vision plans in order and preparing for the momentous (but hugely expensive) roll-out of the iPhone, Hesse permitted himself to be consumed (or at least distracted) by the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
In an incredibly indiscrete interview with a Bloomberg reporter, Hesse disclosed the fact that he had a secret inner sanctum White Room (aka War Room) from which he personally played General Patton in his war against the deal. Perhaps worse, he acknowledged how occupied he was with this battle and larded his commentary with images of how Sprint was going to “nuke” various targets. Inadvertently, Hesse displayed just how distracted he had become from the huge challenges facing Sprint.
As the company’s chairman tacitly acknowledged, Hesse dropped the ball pretty badly with the Network Vision launch.
By flubbing the Network Vision launch presentation — and failing to have any numbers associated with the iPhone and the company’s liquidity issues — Hesse & Co. are going to be under a microscope during the Third Quarter Earnings call. They’ll be expected to release much more detailed (“granular”) operating and capital expense projections than would otherwise be the case. Let’s see if they can meet expectations this time. Stay tuned.
Posted by EyeOnSprint in: Uncategorized