SureWest sees increase in Q4, full-year 2009 revenue

Fri, 02/26/2010 - 7:25am
Traci Patterson

SureWest Communications reported revenue of $60.3 million in its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, compared with $58.9 million in the previous year’s quarter – a 2 percent gain.

The operator said that its 13 percent year-over-year broadband revenue growth – which accounted for 69 percent of the company's total revenues, compared with 63 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 – offset its 15 percent year-over-year telecom revenue decline.

ARPU for triple-play marketable homes, consisting of the company's FTTH and HFC networks, increased 8 percent year-over-year to $115 from $107. This was due to a fourth-quarter video and data price increase. Additionally, continued customer demand for higher data speeds, HDTV and DVR impacted ARPU growth.

Broadband business revenues increased by $1.3 million – or 14 percent – year-over-year to $10.3 million. Customer counts increased 9 percent year-over-year to 7,100, and ARPU grew 5 percent compared with the prior year to $492.

The telecom segment, which only services the company’s Sacramento, Calif., market, experienced revenue declines of 15 percent year-over-year to $18.7 million. And telecom residential revenues declined 26 percent year-over-year to $5.4 million, resulting from losses in telecom voice RGUs of 29 percent year-over-year (or 15,500).

For the full year, SureWest recorded $241.7 million in revenue, compared with full-year 2008 revenue of $230.37 million – a 5 percent increase.

Net loss for the quarter was $100,000, down significantly from a loss of $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, due primarily to an increase in adjusted EBITDA and a decrease in interest expense, according to SureWest.

The company’s net debt decreased from $238.85 million in 2008 to $215.56 million in 2009, for a 10 percent decrease in net debt.

Steve Oldham, SureWest's president and CEO, said: "Our results for the year were driven by top-line revenue growth, increased adjusted EBITDA and three consecutive quarters of positive free cash flow as we continued to drive down net debt. Among our peers, we stood out with 5 percent revenue growth and 13 percent adjusted EBITDA growth. Our commercial service sales efforts are showing great results, particularly in the Kansas City market, where our business customer count grew 27 percent from 2008 and pro forma revenues increased by 29 percent. We also increased residential revenues and ARPU by targeting high-value subscribers looking for the exceptional performance our superior networks deliver.

"Looking ahead, we expect to continue growing our broadband segment, focusing resources on expanding our business services customer base, and increasing residential ARPU and the number of products our customers subscribe to. … Our new video service, Advanced Digital TV, has created an exciting buzz among both fiber and copper network customers in the Sacramento region due to its compelling features, such as whole-home DVR, lightning-fast channel change times and an intuitive program guide. In Kansas City, improvements to the network in 2010 will allow us to add more HD channels and deliver faster Internet speeds."

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