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Shenandoah Telecommunications Company Reports First Quarter 2020 Results

Posted 30 April 2020 12:00 AM by Shentel

EDINBURG, Va., April 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (“Shentel”) (Nasdaq: SHEN) announced first quarter 2020 financial and operating results.

First Quarter 2020 Highlights

• Generated $36.0 million in normalized free cash flow and $61.1 million in operating cash flow.

• Ended the quarter with $195.2 million of liquidity.

• Broadband revenues and Adjusted OIBDA increased 6.2%, and 4.3%, respectively. Operating income was flat with prior year.

• Launched Glo Fiber into three new markets increasing homes passed to over 5,000.

"Although we do not operate in the densely populated urban markets most affected, the COVID-19 crisis began to affect our operating and financial results during the latter part of the first quarter of 2020," said President and CEO, Christopher E.French. “These effects were not material to our overall first quarter performance, but our postpaid gross additions decreased as a result of the temporary closure, beginning in the middle of March, of approximately 40% of our Sprint-branded retail stores and the stay-at-home directives in the states where we operate. We expect that the interruption of our wireless operating momentum will continue until the economies in the markets that we serve more fully re-open, but do not expect that the longterm growth prospects of our wireless business will be materially affected. Impacts from COVID-19 related closures to our broadband and tower segments have been minimal, and we have introduced a number of initiatives, including temporarily upgrading the broadband speeds of more than 27,000 customers to a minimum of 50Mbps, temporarily increasing broadband data allowances, and introducing lower cost pre-paid broadband plans, designed to benefit our customers during this difficult period. We continue to focus on protecting our employees while maintaining and enhancing our networks, and enabling our communities to further rely on our essential services during these difficult times.”

Shentel's first-quarter earnings conference call will be webcast at 8:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 30, 2020. The webcast and related materials will be available on Shentel’s Investor Relations website at https://investor.shentel.com.

Consolidated First Quarter 2020 Results

Revenue in the first quarter of 2020 was $153.2 million compared with $158.8 million in the first quarter of 2019, due primarily to a decline of $8.5 million in the Wireless segment, partially offset by growth of $2.9 million and $0.7 million in the Broadband and Tower segments, respectively. The Wireless segment recognized $4.5 million in lower travel revenue in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019 due to the ongoing dispute with Sprint over resetting of the travel fee. We expect to settle this dispute in the second quarter of 2020 through binding arbitration.

Adjusted OIBDA in the first quarter of 2020 decreased $3.5 million to $64.2 million compared with $67.7 million in 2019 due primarily to the $4.5 million travel revenue decline in the Wireless segment.

Operating income decreased 7.0% to $23.1 million in 2020 from $24.8 million in 2019.

Earnings per diluted share decreased 3.6% to $0.27 from $0.28 per diluted share in 2019.

Wireless

Shentel served 847,771 wireless postpaid subscribers at March 31, 2020, representing an increase of 5.8% compared with March 31, 2019. First quarter 2020 postpaid gross adds were 51,991, as compared to 60,477 in the third quarter of 2019 and 50,847 in the first quarter of 2019. Net adds were 3,577 as compared to 11,698 in the third quarter 2019 and 5,776 in the first quarter 2019. Postpaid churn was 1.91%, consistent with the third quarter and first quarter 2019.

The COVID-19 related retail store closures and local government mandated stay at home directives in second half of March adversely affected gross and net additions during the quarter diluting the sales momentum from the network and distributions expansions we completed in the summer of 2019. At March 31, 2020, phones represented 87.1% of the postpaid base.

Shentel served 279,096 wireless prepaid subscribers at March 31, 2020, representing an increase of 4.4% compared with March 31, 2019. First quarter 2020 prepaid gross adds of 39,074 declined from 40,979 in the first quarter 2019.

Net adds were 5,084, as compared to 8,516 in the same period a year ago. Prepaid phone churn was 4.13%, consistent with the first quarter 2019. Prepaid subscriber results were consistent with our expectations.

Wireless revenue decreased approximately $8.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020 compared with the three months ended March 31, 2019. The decrease was primarily attributable to the aforementioned $4.5 million decline in travel revenue, $2.5 million in lower equipment revenue, $3.0 million in higher amortized customer contract costs, partially offset by a $1.7 million increase in postpaid and prepaid revenue from growth in subscribers.

Wireless operating expenses in the first quarter of 2020 were $80.7 million compared to $88.4 million in the first quarter of 2019. The decrease was primarily attributable to a $4.6 million decrease in depreciation and amortization as certain assets acquired from nTelos became fully utilized, a $1.9 million decline in cost of goods sold resulting from reduced volume of equipment sales, $1.0 million in lower advertising costs driven by temporary closure of certain retail stores, a $0.8 million sales and use tax settlement gain, partially offset by higher cell site rent expense of $1.0 million related to our network expansion.

Wireless Adjusted OIBDA in the first quarter of 2020 was $49.2 million, compared with $54.6 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Wireless operating income in the first quarter of 2020 was $23.4 million, compared to $24.2 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Broadband

Total Revenue Generating Units ("RGUs") as of March 31, 2020 were 193,654, representing an increase of 0.4% from March 31, 2019. Incumbent cable broadband penetration grew from 38.3% to 41.7% and broadband churn declined 5 basis points to 1.48%. Glo Fiber added over 3,600 homes passed and ended the quarter with approximately 5,350 homes passed and 8.5% broadband penetration.

Broadband revenue in the first quarter of 2020 grew $2.9 million or 6.2% to $49.8 million compared with $46.9 million in the first quarter of 2019, primarily driven by a $2.5 million increase in Cable Residential and SMB revenue and $1.1 million increase in Fiber, enterprise and wholesale revenue partially offset by $0.5 million decline in RLEC revenues.

Broadband operating expenses in the first quarter of 2020 were $39.8 million compared to $36.8 million in the first quarter of 2019. The increase was primarily due to $1.3 million of Glo Fiber start-up expenses, $0.9 million increase in depreciation and amortization expense due to the expansion of our network and $0.5 million increase in advertising expenses.

Broadband Adjusted OIBDA in the first quarter of 2020 grew 4.3% to $20.9 million, compared with $20.0 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Broadband Operating income in the first quarter of 2020 was $10.0 million, compared to $10.0 million in the first quarter of 2019.

Tower

Total towers and tenants were 226 and 408 as of March 31, 2020 as compared to 211 and 368, respectively, as of March 31, 2019.

Tower revenue in the first quarter of 2020 grew 23.0% to $3.7 million, compared with $3.0 million for the first quarter of 2019. This increase was due to a 10.9% increase in tenants and an 11.4% increase in the average lease rate.

Tower operating expenses in both the first quarter of 2020 and 2019 were $1.9 million.

Tower Adjusted OIBDA in the first quarter of 2020 grew 25.5% to $2.3 million, compared with $1.8 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Tower operating income in the first quarter of 2020 was $1.8 million, compared to $1.1 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Other Information

Capital expenditures were $32.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2020 compared with $44.4 million in the comparable 2019 period. The $12.1 million decrease in capital expenditures was primarily due to a $17.0 million decline in Wireless as the Ntelos and Parkersburg network expansions were completed in the first half of 2019 partially offset by $5.0 million in higher spending in Broadband driven by our Glo Fiber market expansion.

Outstanding debt at March 31, 2020 totaled $712.2 million, net of unamortized loan costs, compared to $720.1 million as of March 31, 2019. As of March 31, 2020, the Company had liquidity of approximately $195.2 million, including $75.0 million of revolving line of credit availability.

On April 1, 2020, T-Mobile announced the completion of its business combination with Sprint and subsequently delivered to the Company a notice of Network Technology Conversion, Brand Conversion and Combination Conversion (a “Conversion Notice”) pursuant to the terms of the Company’s affiliate agreement with Sprint. As described in more detail in the Company’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Wireless segment has been an affiliate of Sprint since 1995. The affiliate agreement provides for a 90 day period following receipt of the Conversion Notice for the parties to negotiate mutually agreeable terms and conditions under which the Company would continue as an affiliate of T-Mobile. The affiliate agreement further provides that, if T-Mobile and the Company have not negotiated a mutually acceptable agreement within the 90 day period, then T-Mobile would have a period of 60 days thereafter to exercise an option to purchase the assets of our Wireless operations for 90% of the “Entire Business Value” (as defined under our affiliate agreement). If T-Mobile does not exercise its purchase option, the Company would then have a 60 day period to exercise an option to purchase the legacy T-Mobile network and subscribers in our service area. If the Company does not exercise its purchase option, T-Mobile must sell or decommission its legacy network and customers in our service area.

We have been closely monitoring the latest developments around the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus ("COVID-19") and its impact globally. As we focus on our community and do our part to stop COVID-19 from spreading we have taken the following actions to keep families and businesses safe and connected virtually:

In our Broadband segment, we expanded our service offerings by temporarily increasing the minimum speed and data allowance of our broadband service to 50 Mbps and by 250 GB, respectively, each at no additional charge and introducing a new $25 per month prepaid internet service.

In our Wireless segment, we have supported Sprint’s adoption of the Keep Americans Connected pledge while temporarily closing approximately 40% of the Sprint branded retail locations in our service area to comply with federal and state mandates.

We have implemented alternative working arrangements where practicable to keep our employees safe and maintained our geographically redundant equipment, diverse fiber facilities and monitoring services to support maximum uptime of all our essential networks and services.

While these actions did not have a material impact on our first quarter operating results nor do we expect them to impact our long-term growth prospects, we do expect them to temporarily dislocate our wireless operating momentum until the economies in the markets that we serve re-open.

Free cash flow, normalized free cash flow and Adjusted OIBDA are non-GAAP financial measures that are not determined in accordance with US generally accepted accounting principles. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures are provided in this press release after the consolidated financial statements.

Conference Call and Webcast

Teleconference Information:

Date: April 30, 2020

Time: 8:00 A.M. (ET)

Dial in number: 1-888-695-7639

Password: 6654869

Audio webcast: http://investor.shentel.com/

An audio replay of the call will be available approximately two hours after the call is complete, through May 29, 2020 by calling

(855) 859-2056.

About Shenandoah Telecommunications

Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) provides a broad range of diversified communications services through its high speed, state-of-the-art wireless, cable and fiber optic networks to customers in the Mid-Atlantic United States. The Company’s services include: wireless voice and data; broadband internet, video, and digital voice; fiber optic Ethernet, wavelength and leasing; telephone voice and digital subscriber line; and tower colocation leasing. Shentel is the exclusive personal communications service (“PCS”) Affiliate of Sprint in a multi-state area covering large portions of central and western Virginia, south-central Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and portions of Maryland, Kentucky, and Ohio. For more information, please visit www.shentel.com.

This release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to various risks and uncertainties. The Company's actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of unforeseen factors. A discussion of factors that may cause actual results to differ from management's projections, forecasts, estimates and expectations, is available in the Company’s filings with the SEC. Those factors may include natural disasters, pandemics and outbreaks of contagious diseases and other adverse public health developments, such as COVID-19, changes in general economic conditions, increases in costs, changes in regulation and other competitive factors.

CONTACTS:

Shenandoah Telecommunications Company

Jim Volk

Senior Vice President - Chief Financial Officer

540-984-5168

Jim.Volk@emp.shentel.com

Or

John Nesbett/Jennifer Belodeau

IMS Investor Relations

203-972-9200

jnesbett@institutionalms.com

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