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Sprint's World of Pain

Shares sank after CEO Daniel Hesse candidly admitted the telecom's troubles were far from over

Daniel Hesse's coming-out party was anything but festive.

Two months into his new job as chief executive of the troubled wireless operator Sprint Nextel (S), Hesse oversaw his first quarterly earnings report and analyst call. His message was as blunt and depressing as a Sylvia Plath poem: A turnaround of the No. 3 U.S. wireless operator is not going to happen any time soon. "I now have had two full months at the helm, and to be perfectly frank, the issues we face are more difficult than what I had expected to find," Hesse said on a Feb. 28 conference call following yet another dismal quarter. "This turnaround will not happen for many quarters." Sprint shares fell more than 10%, to close at 8.03, a new 52-week low. The last time Sprint touched $8 was in February, 1989.