Sprint pays down $1 billion in debt; shares jump

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2009 11:34 AM

Sprint Nextel Corp. said Monday it has paid off the $1 billion balance on its $4.5 billion credit line, helping the company's stock gain more than 10 percent.

Shares jumped 35 cents to $3.44 in morning trading.

The stock also got a boost Monday from an upgrade at Credit Suisse. In an investor note, Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin upgraded Sprint to "Outperform" from "Neutral" and raised his share price target to $6 from $4.

He said the growth of Sprint's cheaper, prepaid calling plans should help stanch subscriber losses in the fourth quarter, which would make it the first time in two years that Sprint's customer base hasn't shrunk.

The move to cut debt comes after Standard & Poor's said last week that it may cut Sprint's "BB" credit rating, warning that the company's "weak" performance this year may push its debt level higher.

Sprint, the country's third-largest carrier, posted a loss of $478 million in the third quarter, worse than the year-earlier period.