Clearwire Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of wireless broadband service provider Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) were losing signal today as investors pushed them down as much as 15% in intraday trading after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings.

So what: Clearwire's press release headline may have touted "record" results for the fourth quarter and all of 2011, but investors today have been firm on the idea that 2012 will most likely not set any records. After logging $1.25 billion in revenue for 2011, the company said that at best, revenue will match that in 2012. Management set a revenue range of $1.15 billion to $1.25 billion for the year ahead. Wall Street had been expecting that the company would increase sales to $1.37 billion.

Now what: It's been a tough road for Clearwire and its investors, and it doesn't look like that's going to miraculously change. On the basis of adjusted EBITDA (a measure of cash flow), the company narrowed its loss in 2011, but isn't sure that that'll be the case for 2012, management saying that the adjusted EBITDA loss could reach $350 million. The company will also ramp up spending next year as it continues to build out its network and fend off competitors that have been encroaching on its primary customer, Sprint (NYS: S) .

On the other hand, the company could have a bit more breathing room if competitor LightSquared can't get around the Federal Communications Commission's block of its services.

Want to keep up to date on Clearwire? Add it to your Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferdoes not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter@KoppTheFoolorFacebook.

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