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Press Release -- March 6th, 2012
Source: Enventis
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HickoryTech Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Results

Company recently closed on IdeaOne acquisition, Positioned for growth in Fargo, North Dakota

MANKATO, Minn., March 6, 2012 HickoryTech Corporation (NASDAQ:HTCO, news, filings) today reported earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011.  Revenue totaled $39.6 million, a 5 percent decrease year over year. Fourth quarter net income of $1.4 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, was down year over year partially due to costs associated with the Company’s agreement to acquire IdeaOne, and due to higher interest costs associated with the Company’s third quarter 2011 refinancing.  Fiscal 2011 revenue was up 1 percent and operating income was down 6 percent from fiscal 2010.

“We met and exceeded our objectives for fiscal 2011 and took additional steps to further expand our fiber network and to grow our company,” said John Finke, HickoryTech’s president and chief executive officer.  “We signed an agreement to acquire IdeaOne in December and closed on this acquisition on March 1, 2012. While our fourth quarter results included expenses associated with this acquisition and normal sales fluctuation in our equipment segment, our fiber and data segment continued to grow while our telecom business remained stable. We remain committed to our strategic initiatives and will continue to manage the strong cash flows of our business to make investments which lay the foundation for future growth initiatives.”

Capital expenditures in the fourth quarter totaled $7.3 million, up $1.4 million compared with the same period in fiscal 2010. Business Sector capital investments totaled $4.5 million and supported local market expansion, capacity upgrades and success based initiatives.  Telecom Sector investments of $2.8 million supported core network services and broadband growth and expansion.

“We made significant progress in 2011 with our Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project which further expands our fiber footprint from the Twin Cities to northern Minnesota,” said Finke. “The majority of this fiber route was completed in 2011 and we’ll begin the northwestern Minnesota route in 2012, which will add more diversity to our Fargo, North Dakota network.  The Fargo metro network is expected to bring accelerated growth opportunities for our customers in this market.”

Business Sector (includes Fiber/Data and Equipment Segments, before inter-segment eliminations)

Fourth quarter Business Sector revenue totaled $22.4 million, a 9 percent decrease year over year, attributed to lower equipment sales.  Costs and expenses totaled $20.1 million, down 9 percent year over year. Net income totaled $1.4 million, also down 1 percent from one year ago.

  • Fiber and data revenue totaled $12.1 million, an increase of 7 percent year over year and a $473,000 increase over the third quarter 2011.
  • Fiber and data operating income was $2.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2011, a 25 percent increase year over year.  Cost and expenses in this growth segment of the Company have been held to only a 4 percent increase year over year.
  • Equipment segment revenue totaled $10.3 million, a decrease of 22 percent year over year.  Hardware sales decreased 28 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2010 while support services revenue grew 15 percent.
  • Equipment segment operating income was $292,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011, a $527,000 decrease year over year.  Costs and expenses decreased 19 percent.

Telecom Sector (before inter-segment eliminations)

Fourth quarter Telecom Sector revenue totaled $17.8 million, down 1 percent year over year.  Telecom Sector results were stable and reflect growth in broadband services offset by the impact of declines in legacy local service and ancillary service revenues.  Costs and expenses totaled $15.1 million, a 1 percent decrease year over year. Telecom Sector net income totaled $1.7 million, a 1 percent increase over fourth quarter 2010.

  • Broadband revenue totaled $5.1 million, up 2 percent year over year.  Broadband revenue includes DSL, Internet, Data and Digital TV services.
  • Network access revenue totaled $5.4 million, a 1 percent increase year over year.
  • Local service revenue totaled $3.5 million, down 6 percent from one year ago, and local access lines declined 7 percent.
  • Bill processing revenue totaled $1.4 million, up 29 percent year over year.

Consolidated Results for fiscal 2011

  • Revenue for fiscal 2011 totaled $163.5 million, a 1 percent increase over fiscal 2010.  A unique fiber construction project in 2010 added $5 million of revenue.  Excluding the 2010 fiber construction project, revenue for fiscal 2011 grew 4 percent.
  • Net income for fiscal 2011 totaled $9.2 million, a 24 percent decrease from fiscal 2010.  The company had unique income tax reserve reversals of $406,000 in fiscal 2011 and $2.7 million in fiscal 2010, which added to net income in both years.  Excluding the income tax reserve releases, net income in fiscal 2011 decreased 6 percent from fiscal 2010, largely due to SG&A and depreciation increases.
  • Operating income for fiscal 2011 totaled $19.7 million, a 6 percent decrease from the previous year.  The 2010 fiber construction project added $2.3 million of operating income last year.  Excluding this fiber construction project, operating income for fiscal 2011 grew 5 percent.
  • EBITDA (as defined by our credit agreement) was $43.3 million in 2011, similar to 2010 EBITDA of $43.1 million.  Excluding the 2010 fiber construction project, EBITDA grew 6 percent in 2011.
  • Business sector revenue for fiscal 2011 totaled $94.9 million, up 2 percent from the previous year or up 8 percent when excluding the 2010 fiber construction project revenue.  Fiber and data revenue grew 14 percent (excluding the 2010 fiber construction project revenue) in fiscal 2011, and Equipment revenue grew 3 percent.
  • Telecom Sector revenue for fiscal 2011 totaled $71.1 million, down 1 percent from the previous year.  Telecom Broadband services grew 8 percent and Bill Processing revenue from external customers grew 13 percent, both helped offset the declines in legacy telecom service revenue.
  • Capital expenditures in 2011 totaled $21.4 million net of grants from the Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project.
  • The company completed the refinance of its senior credit facility in the third quarter of 2011.  As of December 31, 2011, $119.7 million of term loan debt is outstanding from this new credit agreement. The  $150 million credit agreement offers the company access to additional financing for growth initiatives, and was utilized in the acquisition of IdeaOne in the first quarter of 2012.  The term of the credit agreement runs through fiscal 2016.

Debt Position                    
Long-term debt and current maturities of debt, including capitalized leases, totaled $120.2 million as of Dec. 31, 2011, down $370,000 from the end of third quarter 2011.  The 2011 debt balance is up slightly from the $119 million as of Dec. 31, 2010.  Net debt, a measure of actual balance-sheet strength that subtracts the cash balance from total debt, totaled $107.2 million as of Dec. 31, 2011, a $11.7 million improvement from the $118.9 million net debt as of Dec. 31, 2010.

Close of IdeaOne (Fargo, North Dakota) acquisition
Effective March 1, 2012, HickoryTech completed its acquisition of IdeaOne, a facilities-based fiber CLEC operating in the Fargo, North Dakota area.  IdeaOne has a robust, metro fiber network and a strong business customer base.  Effective in the first quarter 2012, the company will report IdeaOne results as part of its fiber and data segment operations, as part of its Business Sector.  HickoryTech utilized a $22 million term loan debt under its existing credit facility, plus cash, to complete the acquisition.

Fiscal Outlook

HickoryTech provides the following guidance for its 2012 fiscal year. Guidance metrics reflect the IdeaOne acquisition as of March 1, 2012.

  • Revenue is expected to range from $177 million to $183 million
  • Net Income is expected to range from $7.6 million to $8.6 million (factors in high level of depreciation associated with network expansion)
  • Diluted Earnings Per Share is expected to range between $0.57 to $0.64 per share
  • CAPEX is expected to range from $25 million to $29 million (net of government grants for the Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project)
  • EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) is expected to range from $46 million to $48 million (factors in Telecom impact resulting from Access Reform Plan)
  • Debt balance at Dec. 31, 2012 is expected to range from $141 million to $144 million

Financial tablessupplemental information

Conference Call and Webcast  

HickoryTech will host a conference call and webcast on Wednesday, March 7 at 9 a.m. CT. The dial-in number for the call is 877-774-2369 and the conference ID is 49271871.  A simultaneous webcast of the call and downloadable presentation will be available through a link on the Investor Relations page at http://investor.hickorytech.com.

About HickoryTech                                           

HickoryTech Corporation is a leading communications provider serving business and residential customers in the upper Midwest.  With headquarters in Mankato, Minn., HickoryTech has 500 employees and a five-state fiber network spanning 3,250 route miles across Minnesota and into Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.  Enventis provides business IP voice, data and video solutions, MPLS networking, data center and managed hosted services and communication systems.  HickoryTech delivers broadband Internet, Digital TV, voice and data services to businesses and consumers in southern Minnesota and northwest Iowa. The Company trades on the NASDAQ, symbol: HTCO.  For more information, visit www.hickorytech.com.

Non-GAAP Measures

To supplement the Company’s financial statements presented in accordance with GAAP, the Company provides certain non-GAAP financial measures of financial performance and position. The Company’s reference to these non-GAAP measures should be considered in addition to results prepared under current accounting standards, but are not a substitute for, or superior to, GAAP results.  These non-GAAP measures are provided to enhance investors’ overall understanding of the Company’s current financial performance, financial position and ability to generate cash flows. In many cases non-GAAP financial measures are used by analysts and investors to evaluate the Company’s performance and financial position. Reconciliation to the nearest GAAP measure included in this press release can be found in the financial table included below.

Forward-looking statement
Certain statements included in this press release that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements." Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the industry in which HickoryTech operates and management's beliefs and assumptions. The forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties and probabilities. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they were made. HickoryTech undertakes no obligation to update any of its forward-looking statements, except as required by law.

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