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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 17, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Clearwire jumps as Stanton doubles down on stock

At least one investor has faith that Clearwire’s bet on ultrafast LTE technology will pay off.

That would be Executive Chairman John Stanton, who oversaw the company’s shift toward LTE while serving as interim chief executive over the past five months. Stanton stepped aside on Aug. 11 when Erik Prusch was named chief executive of the Kirkland company.

Between Friday, Aug. 12, and Tuesday, Aug. 16, Stanton bought 2,755,000 shares, including 103,035 shares for his family trust. At today’s closing price those shares are worth $6.4 million.

Thumbnail image for JohnWStanton_ClearwireChairman.jpg

That brought his Clearwire stake to 3,431,352 shares as of Tuesday, according to a disclosure report filed that day. That’s almost double his Clearwire stake disclosed by the company in April, when he had 1,796,685 shares.

The disclosure of Stanton’s purchases boosted confidence in the stock, which soared 27 percent Wednesday, closing at $2.33, up 50 cents for the day. It was the second highest gaining stock, on a percentage basis, on Tuesday.

That nearly recouped the stock’s loss since a big plunge Aug. 3, but it remains well below its $8.82 high for the year. Stanton paid between $1.78 and $1.89 for his recent buys.

The last plunge came after the company used its earnings report to announce plans for an “LTE Advanced” network that will provide wireless download speeds over 100 megabits per second. It was a turning point for a company built on WiMax, a different wireless broadband technology that’s being eclipsed by LTE.

The catch — that Clearwire needs to raise up to $900 million to pay for the LTE project — overshadowed the company’s recent growth in subscribers and progress towards profitability. The day after the earnings report, CLWR fell from $2.47 to $1.76.

Stanton must have confidence the company will find a way to pay for the LTE upgrade — he and Clearwire founder Craig McCaw always seem to find ways to fund their wireless ventures — but he declined to comment on the topic this afternoon.

Comments | Topics: 4G, Billionaire techies, Clearwire

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