March 21, 2011, 4:42 PM — In the first full day of trading since AT&T announced it will purchase No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile USA, shares of No. 3 wireless player Sprint (NYSE: S) plummeted more than 17 percent Monday before crawling back to end the day at 4.36, a drop of 13.6 percent.
Interestingly, the deal had no negative effect on either Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) or Vodaphone (NASDAQ: VOD), the two carriers that share ownership of Verizon Wireless, AT&T's chief rival for supremacy in the U.S. wireless market.
Verizon shares ended Monday's regular session up 62 cents, or 1.7 percent, to 36.46, while Vodaphone was up 1.04, or 3.75 percent, to 28.80.
AT&T shares (NYSE: ATT), meanwhile, finished trading up 33 cents, or 1.3 percent, to 26.54.
On Sunday AT&T announced it would buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for $39 billion, vaulting AT&T past Verizon Wireless as the top American carrier (with 125 million subscribers to Verizon's 93 million) and leaving third-place Sprint in the dust with about 50 million subscribers. Assuming, of course, that the acquisition clears regulatory hurdles.
Stepping back from the day's trading results, it's clear that Wall Street -- at least initially -- sees little damage to Verizon Wireless from the deal, and all kinds of problems for Sprint. We'll see if that opinion holds in the days ahead.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.