(Adds analyst estimates, quote, details on costs, updates share price)
By Anjali Athavaley
May 3 (Reuters) - Sprint Corp on Wednesday said its quarterly loss narrowed as the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier cut costs and recorded strong subscriber growth.
The net loss for the company, majority owned by Japan's SoftBank Corp, slimmed to $283 million, or 7 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended March 31, from $554 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.
Net operating revenue rose 5.8 percent to $8.54 billion.
Analysts, on average, expected a net loss of 4 cents per share on revenue of $7.93 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sprint added 42,000 postpaid phone subscribers, or those who pay a monthly bill, in the quarter.
"Their postpaid phone number was relatively strong," said Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson. "For a change they were able to do that without sacrificing a huge number of prepaid subscribers."
Prepaid subscribers rose 180,000 on a net basis in what Sprint said was a return to growth for the first time in two years.
Sprint said it cut costs by $2.1 billion in its 2016 fiscal year, bringing the total reduction over the last two years to $3.4 billion as it executes a turnaround plan.
The company is likely to face questions about merger prospects from analysts during a conference call later Wednesday morning.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission barred merger talks among telecommunications companies for over a year as the agency conducted a $19.8 billion auction of airwaves from broadcasters for wireless use.
Sprint did not participate in the auction but was not permitted to talk to companies that were. Now that the FCC-mandated quiet period is over, it can have discussions.
Shares were 1 percent higher to $9.16 in premarket trading. (Additional reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)