LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Windstream Corp. (NYSE:WIN, news, filings) today reported second-quarter results highlighted by continued improvement in access line trends. The company also updated its financial guidance for the year following its acquisition of Iowa Telecommunications Services, Inc. (“Iowa Telecom”) on June 1 and expects a lower dividend payout ratio of adjusted free cash flow.
Windstream also announced that eight of its 33 rural broadband stimulus applications were approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The approved grants total approximately $67 million and require Windstream to invest an additional $22 million, or 25 percent of the expected project cost. The company’s remaining 25 applications remain under evaluation by the RUS.
“Our business is performing very well, and we are on track to meet the operating and financial goals that we set earlier this year,” said Jeff Gardner, Windstream president and CEO. “Our new ‘Price for Life’ bundles have been well-received by consumers and small businesses and are yielding continued improvement in our industry-leading access line trends.
“In addition, we completed the purchase of Iowa Telecom this quarter, the latest in a series of targeted acquisitions that do not significantly increase the risk profile of our business and that will enable us to lower our dividend payout ratio.”
Gardner noted that Windstream passed its four-year anniversary in July.
“I am pleased with the transformation that Windstream has made from a traditional voice service provider to one focused on next-generation broadband and business services,” he said. “Our operational expertise and disciplined growth strategy have produced total shareholder returns of nearly 40 percent over the past four years – significantly better than that of our peer group and the overall market.”
Windstream’s second-quarter results under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) include approximately $11 million in after-tax merger and integration costs, which lowered earnings per share by roughly 2 cents.
Second-quarter financial results:
- Total revenues were $917 million, a 22 percent increase from a year ago.
- Operating income was $254 million, an increase of 4 percent year-over-year.
- Net income was $79 million, a 13 percent decrease from a year ago, or 17 cents of diluted earnings per share.
- Capital expenditures were $99 million, a 29 percent increase year-over-year.
Under pro forma results:
- Total revenues were $960 million, a 3 percent decrease from a year ago.
- Business service revenues were $418 million, essentially flat year-over-year and representing 44 percent of total revenues.
- Operating income was $276 million, a 6 percent increase year-over-year.
- Operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) was $459 million, an increase of 1.5 percent from a year ago.
- Adjusted OIBDA, which excludes non-cash pension expense, non-cash stock-based compensation and restructuring charges, was approximately $480 million, a decrease of less than 1 percent year-over-year.
- Capital expenditures were $104 million, essentially the same as a year ago.
Adjusted free cash flow – defined as adjusted OIBDA, excluding merger and integration costs, minus cash interest, cash taxes and capital expenditures – was $198 million during the second quarter. Adjusted free cash flow is not pro forma and reflects NuVox, Inc. (“NuVox”) and Iowa Telecom on an actual basis from the date the businesses were acquired.
Second-quarter pro forma operating results:
Windstream added approximately 14,800 new high-speed Internet customers during the second quarter, bringing its total customer base to approximately 1.27 million – an increase of 9 percent year-over-year. Overall broadband penetration is now 41 percent of total voice lines and 58 percent of primary residential lines.
Windstream also added more than 8,000 digital TV customers in the quarter, bringing its total customer base to approximately 420,000, or 21 percent penetration of primary residential lines.
Total access lines declined by approximately 34,000, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 3.7 percent. Total lines at the end of the year were 3.33 million.
In the business channel, advanced data and integrated solutions, which are largely connections providing both voice and data services, increased 1 percent.
Updated financial outlook for 2010
Windstream updated its pro forma financial guidance for 2010, which includes a full year for NuVox and Iowa Telecom:
The company expects to generate $770 million to $810 million in adjusted free cash flow in 2010, resulting in a dividend payout ratio between 57 percent and 60 percent. The company’s previous guidance, prior to the close of the Iowa Telecom acquisition, projected $690 million to $765 million in adjusted free cash flow and a dividend payout ratio of 59 percent to 65 percent. The updated adjusted free cash flow guidance assumes expected net cash interest of approximately $494 million and cash taxes of $190 million to $210 million for 2010. Adjusted free cash flow is not pro forma and reflects NuVox and Iowa Telecom on an actual basis from the date the businesses were acquired.
Windstream will hold a conference call at 7:30 a.m. CDT today to review the company’s second-quarter earnings results.
Interested parties can access the call by dialing 1-877-374-3977, conference ID 85310441, ten minutes prior to the start time.
To access the call replay:
A replay of the call will be available beginning at 10:30 a.m. CDT today and ending at midnight CDT on Aug. 13. The replay can be accessed by dialing 1-800-642-1687, conference ID 85310441.
The conference call also will be streamed live over the company’s website at www.windstream.com/investors. Financial, statistical and other information related to the call will be posted on the site. A replay of the webcast will be available on the website beginning at 10:30 a.m. CDT today.
Windstream Corp. (NASDAQ: WIN), headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., is an S&P 500 company with communications operations in 23 states and about $4 billion in annual revenues. Windstream provides phone, high-speed Internet and high-definition digital TV services. The company also offers a wide range of IP-based voice and data services and advanced phone systems and equipment to businesses and government agencies. For more information about Windstream, visit www.windstream.com.
Pro forma results adjusts results of operations under GAAP to include the acquisitions of D&E, Lexcom, NuVox and Iowa Telecom, and to exclude the results of the disposed out-of-territory production distribution operations and all merger and integration costs related to strategic transactions. For further details on these adjustments, see the Notes to Unaudited Reconciliation of Revenues and Sales and Operating Income Under GAAP to Pro Forma Revenues and Sales and Pro Forma Adjusted OIBDA.
Windstream claims the protection of the safe-harbor contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for forward-looking statements set forth in this press release. Forward-looking statements, including Windstream’s updated financial outlook for 2010, are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual future events and results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on estimates, projections, beliefs, and assumptions that Windstream believes are reasonable but are not guarantees of future events and results. Actual future events and results of Windstream may differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements as a result of a number of important factors.
Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in Windstream’s forward-looking statements include, among others:
- further adverse changes in economic conditions in the markets served by Windstream;
- the extent, timing and overall effects of competition in the communications business;
- continued voice line loss;
- the impact of new, emerging or competing technologies;
- the adoption of intercarrier compensation and/or universal service reform proposals by the Federal Communications Commission or Congress that results in a significant loss of revenue to Windstream;
- the risks associated with the integration of acquired businesses or the ability to realize anticipated synergies, cost savings and growth opportunities;
- for Windstream’s competitive local exchange carrier operations, adverse effects on the availability, quality of service and price of facilities and services provided by other incumbent local exchange carriers on which Windstream’s competitive local exchange carrier services depend;
- the availability and cost of financing in the corporate debt markets;
- the potential for adverse changes in the ratings given to Windstream’s debt securities by nationally accredited ratings organizations;
- the effects of federal and state legislation, and rules and regulations governing the communications industry;
- material changes in the communications industry that could adversely affect vendor relationships with equipment and network suppliers and customer relationships with wholesale customers;
- unfavorable results of litigation;
- unfavorable rulings by state public service commissions in proceedings regarding universal service funds, intercarrier compensation or other matters that could reduce revenues or increase expenses;
- the effects of work stoppages;
- the impact of equipment failure, natural disasters or terrorist acts;
- earnings on pension plan investments significantly below Windstream’s expected long term rate of return for plan assets;
- changes in federal, state and local tax laws and rates; and
- those additional factors under the caption “Risk Factors” in Windstream’s Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, and in subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In addition to these factors, actual future performance, outcomes and results may differ materially because of more general factors including, among others, general industry and market conditions and growth rates, economic conditions, and governmental and public policy changes.
Windstream undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The foregoing review of factors that could cause Windstream’s actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward-looking statements should be considered in connection with information regarding risks and uncertainties that may affect Windstream’s future results included in filings by Windstream with the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov.
Media Relations Contact:
David Avery, 501-748-5876
Investor Relations Contacts:
Mary Michaels, 501-748-7578
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