March 19, 2012 / 3:48 PM / 6 years ago

Sprint shares down, analyst cites bankruptcy risk

(Reuters) - Shares in Sprint Nextel (S.N) fell more than 4 percent after an analyst report said there is an increasing risk that the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider could end up filing for bankruptcy as the debt-laden company faces steep costs due to factors such as its iPhone deal with Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel Corporation delivers his keynote address at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) Enterprise & Applications event in San Diego, California October 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett downgraded Sprint shares to “underperform” from “market-perform” saying that the company will face “new and larger risks” if Apple launches a high-speed iPhone later this year based on a technology that Sprint’s bigger rivals have installed more widely than Sprint.

“To be clear, we are not predicting a Sprint bankruptcy. We are merely acknowledging that it is a very legitimate risk. And notwithstanding a recent rally in Sprint shares, we believe that risk is rising,” Moffett said in a research note.

A Sprint spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Sprint shares were down 13 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $2.76 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the report was released.

Reporting By Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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