Otelco Reports Fourth Quarter and Year 2010 Results

ONEONTA, AL, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - Otelco Inc. (NASDAQ: OTT) (TSX: OTT.un), a wireline telecommunications services provider in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire and West Virginia, today announced results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010.  Key highlights for Otelco include:

  • Total revenues of $25.9 million for fourth quarter and $104.4 million for 2010.
  • Operating income of $6.8 million for fourth quarter and $26.4 million for 2010.
  • Adjusted EBITDA (as defined below) of $12.8 million for fourth quarter and $50.7 million for 2010.

"We were pleased with our strong fourth quarter financial results, as the Company generated operating income of $6.8 million and adjusted EBITDA of $12.8 million," said Mike Weaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of Otelco. "For the first time in our corporate history, we generated annual adjusted EBITDA in excess of $50 million, with an increase in total annual revenue and improving EBITDA margins.

"Our cash position remains strong," continued Weaver.  "We increased our cash for the year by $0.5 million after making a voluntary repayment of senior debt of $6.1 million and an increase in capital expenditures of $0.6 million to expand our CLEC operations in New England, our video products in Alabama and our wireless data offerings in Missouri. 

"Our plans for 2011 include continuing the expansion of our CLEC services into New Hampshire as well as establishing CLEC services in Massachusetts," added Weaver.  "To lead this expansion, we have completed the reorganization of our sales and marketing departments and more than doubled our sales team.  Although we experienced some loss of access line equivalents in the fourth quarter, we believe this was primarily due to our refusal to compete solely on price and our commitment to providing quality products and services to our customers.

"One of our goals for 2010 was to control our cost of services and products and reduce our selling and administrative costs. Our efforts on this front were successful as evidenced by the improvement in our EBITDA margin of 1.5%," Weaver concluded.  "We will continue to explore alternative means of delivering products and services to our customers as we remain focused on controlling our costs.  Our commitment to building value for and returning cash to our shareholders is unwavering, as evidenced by our twenty-fourth consecutive IDS dividend."

Distribution to Income Deposit Security Holders

Each quarter, the Board will consider the declaration of dividends during its normally scheduled meeting. For this quarter, the Board is meeting on February 23, 2011. The scheduled interest and any dividend declared will be paid on March 30, 2011, to holders of record as of the close of business on March 15, 2011. The interest payment will cover the period from December 30, 2010 through March 29, 2011.  Currently, it is anticipated that the Company's dividends in 2011 will continue to be treated as a return of capital for tax purposes. The Company has made twenty-four successive quarterly distributions of dividends and interest since its IDS units were originally offered to the public in December 2004.

Fourth Quarter 2010 Financial Summary  
(Dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)  
                 
  Three Months Ended December 31,   Change  
  2009   2010   Amount   Percent  
Revenues  $       26,055    $                   25,950    $         (105)                       (0.4) %
Operating income  $         5,537    $                     6,761    $        1,224                       22.1 %
Interest expense  $       (5,901)    $                    (6,258)    $           357                         6.0 %
Net income (loss) available to stockholders  $          (200)    $                        596    $           796   *  
  Basic net income (loss) per share  $         (0.02)    $                       0.04    $          0.06   *  
  Diluted net income (loss) per share  $         (0.02)    $                       0.04    $          0.06   *  
                 
Adjusted EBITDA(a)  $       12,211    $                   12,780    $           569                         4.7 %
Capital expenditures  $         3,204    $                     3,782    $           578                       18.0 %
                 
             * Not a meaningful calculation                
                 
  Year Ended December 31,   Change  
  2009   2010   Amount   Percent  
Revenues  $     103,755    $                 104,400    $           645                         0.6 %
Operating income  $       21,927    $                   26,369    $        4,442                       20.3 %
Interest expense  $     (25,416)    $                  (24,747)    $         (669)                       (2.6) %
Net income (loss) available to stockholders  $       (3,118)    $                        691    $        3,809   *  
  Basic net income (loss) per share  $         (0.25)    $                       0.05    $          0.30   *  
  Diluted net income (loss) per share  $         (0.25)    $                       0.05    $          0.30   *  
                 
Adjusted EBITDA(a)  $       48,848    $                   50,672    $        1,824                         3.7 %
Capital expenditures  $         9,596    $                   10,225    $           629                         6.6 %
                 
             * Not a meaningful calculation                
                 
Reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to Net Income (Loss)                
  Three Months Ended December 31,   Year Ended December 31,  
  2009   2010   2009   2010  
Net income (loss)  $          (200)    $                        596    $      (3,118)    $                  691  
Add:  Depreciation             3,850                           3,673            14,445                   13,837  
          Interest expense - net of premium             5,564                           5,916            22,896                   23,385  
          Interest expense - caplet cost                  -                                  -                1,168                          -   
          Interest expense - amortize loan cost                338                              342              1,352                     1,361  
          Income tax expense (benefit)              (258)                              473            (1,367)                        610  
          Change in fair value of derivatives                185                             (543)              1,355                        879  
          Loan fees                  19                                19                   76                          76  
          Amortization - intangibles             2,713                           2,304            12,041                     9,833  
Adjusted EBITDA  $       12,211    $                   12,780    $      48,848    $             50,672  

(a) Adjusted EBITDA is defined as consolidated net income (loss) plus interest expense, depreciation and amortization, income taxes and certain non-recurring fees, expenses or charges and other non-cash charges reducing consolidated net income.  Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure calculated in accordance with generally acceptable accounting principles (GAAP).  While providing useful information, Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for consolidated statement of operations data prepared in accordance with GAAP.  The Company believes Adjusted EBITDA is useful as a tool to analyze the Company on the basis of operating performance and leverage.  The definition of Adjusted EBITDA corresponds to the definition of Adjusted EBITDA in the indenture governing the Company's senior subordinated notes and its credit facility and certain of the covenants contained therein.  The Company's presentation of Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies.

Otelco Inc. - Key Operating Statistics                          
                                   
                  Quarterly   Annual  
                  % Change   % Change  
          December 31,     Sept. 30,   Dec. 31,   Sept. 30-Dec. 31      
          2008   2009     2010   2010   2010   2009-2010  
Otelco access line equivalents(1) 100,043   100,356     100,872   99,639   (1.2) % (0.7) %
                                   
RLEC and other services:                            
  Voice access lines   51,530   48,215     46,359   45,461   (1.9) % (5.7) %
  Data access lines   18,709   20,066     20,890   20,852   (0.2) % 3.9 %
    Access line equivalents(1) 70,239   68,281     67,249   66,313   (1.4) % (2.9) %
  Cable television customers 4,082   4,195     4,248   4,227   (0.5) % 0.8 %
  Additional internet customers 11,864   9,116     7,483   6,975   (6.8) % (23.5) %
    RLEC dial-up   1,183   786     447   393   (12.1) % (50.0) %
    Other dial-up   9,213   6,439     4,804   4,300   (10.5) % (33.2) %
    Other data lines   1,468   1,891     2,232   2,282   2.2 % 20.7 %
                                   
CLEC:                              
  Voice access lines   26,558   28,647     30,118   29,944   (0.6) % 4.5 %
  Data access lines   3,246   3,428     3,505   3,382   (3.5) % (1.3) %
    Access line equivalents(1) 29,804   32,075     33,623   33,326   (0.9) % 3.9 %
  Wholesale network connections 98,187   132,324     145,300   149,043   2.6 % 12.6 %
                                   
                 
          At and for the Years Ended       Annual Change  
          December 31,        2009-2010  
          2008   2009     2010       Amount    Percent  
Total Revenues (in millions): $         77.1   $       103.8     $       104.4       $                  0.6   0.6 %
  RLEC     $         54.4   $         60.8     $         58.4       $                (2.4)   (3.9) %
  CLEC     $         22.7   $         43.0     $         46.0       $                  3.0   7.0 %
                                   

(1) We define access line equivalents as voice access lines and data access lines (including cable modems, digital subscriber lines, and dedicated data access trunks).

FINANCIAL DISCUSSION FOR FOURTH QUARTER 2010:

Revenue
Total revenues decreased 0.4% in the three months ended December 31, 2010, to $26.0 million from $26.1 million in the three months ended December 31, 2009. CLEC revenue gains for local services and network access were offset by lower RLEC revenues.  Local services revenue decreased 0.5% in the fourth quarter and held at $12.1 million in both quarters ended December 31, 2010 and 2009.  Expansion of CLEC revenue produced a $0.3 million increase, which was offset by $0.3 million in lower RLEC basic service revenues.  Network access revenue decreased 1.2% in the fourth quarter to $8.3 million from $8.4 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2009. Access revenue related to RLEC subscriber usage and lower NECA settlements accounted for a decrease of $0.3 million, including 2010 cost study estimates.  CLEC state access and special access revenues increased $0.2 million as the Company continued its expansion into the New Hampshire market.  Cable television revenue in the three months ended December 31, 2010, increased 9.3% to just over $0.7 million in fourth quarter 2010 compared to just under $0.7 million in the same period in 2009.  Growth in digital family packages of $0.1 million was partially offset by a $0.1 million decrease in basic cable.  Internet revenue for the fourth quarter 2010 decreased 0.8% to stay at $3.5 million in both quarters ended December 31, 2010 and 2009. Growth in broadband data lines was offset by the loss of dial-up subscribers.  Transport services revenue increased 2.0% to $1.4 million in the three months ended December 31, 2010 and the same period in 2009.

Operating Expenses
Operating expenses in the three months ended December 31, 2010, decreased 6.5% to $19.2 million from $20.5 million in the three months ended December 31, 2009.  Cost of services and products decreased 0.2% to stay at $9.9 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2010 and for the same period last year. Reductions in RLEC costs and adjustments related to the settlement of the FairPoint bankruptcy were offset by higher costs associated with increasing CLEC revenue.  Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased 18.0% to $3.3 million in the three months ended December 31, 2010, from $4.0 million in the three months ended December 31, 2009. Settlements with several carriers in 2010 decreased uncollectible reserves by $0.5 million coupled with decreases of $0.2 million in legal fees and insurance for a net change of $0.7 million.  Depreciation and amortization for fourth quarter 2010 decreased 8.9% to $6.0 million from $6.6 million in the fourth quarter 2009.  Amortization of intangible assets associated with the Country Road acquisition decreased $0.4 million, including a covenant not to compete and contract and customer base intangible assets. The remaining decrease of $0.2 million reflected lower depreciation of plant assets in Alabama partially offset by an increase in depreciation in Missouri.

Interest Expense
Interest expense increased 6.0% to $6.3 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2010, from $5.9 million a year ago. The increase in interest expense included $0.1 million in interest on the additional senior subordinated notes issued in the Class B conversion that occurred in June 2010 with the remaining change of $0.3 million due to changes in interest rates associated with a second interest rate swap becoming effective in 2010.

Change in Fair Value of Derivatives
As a requirement of the existing senior debt, the Company has two interest rate swap agreements intended to hedge changes in interest rates on its senior debt. The swap agreements do not qualify for hedge accounting under the technical requirements of Accounting Standards Codification 815. Changes in value for the two swaps are reflected in change in the fair value of derivatives on the income statement and have no impact on cash. Over the life of the swaps, the change in value will be zero, with no impact on Adjusted EBITDA or operations. The value of the swaps increased $0.5 million in fourth quarter 2010 compared to a decrease of $0.2 million in the same period of 2009.

Adjusted EBITDA
Adjusted EBITDA for the three months ended December 31, 2010, was $12.8 million compared to $12.2 million for the same period in 2009 and $12.7 million in the third quarter of 2010. See financial tables for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income (loss).

Balance Sheet
As of December 31, 2010, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $18.2 million compared to $17.7 million at the end of 2009. Total long-term notes payable was reduced to $271.6 million, reflecting a voluntary prepayment of $6.1 million made in November 2010. The fourth quarter distribution of $5.6 million in interest and dividends to our shareowners and $0.3 million in interest to our bond holders occurred on December 30, 2010.  This represents the twenty-fourth consecutive quarterly distribution since going public in December 2004.

Capital Expenditures
Capital expenditures were $3.8 million for the quarter as the Company continues to grow and invest in its infrastructure.  The Company is expanding its CLEC capabilities in Maine and New Hampshire; enhancing DSL and wireless broadband capacity; and expanding IPTV capability in Alabama.

Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call
Otelco has scheduled a conference call, which will be broadcast live over the internet, on Thursday, February 17, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. ET.  To participate in the call, participants should dial (913) 312-1471 and ask for the Otelco call 10 minutes prior to the start time.  Investors, analysts and the general public will also have the opportunity to listen to the conference call free over the internet by visiting the Company's website at www.OtelcoInc.com  or www.earnings.com. To listen to the live call online, please visit the website at least 15 minutes early to register, download and install any necessary audio software.  For those who cannot listen to the live webcast, a replay of the webcast will be available on the Company's website at www.OtelcoInc.com or www.earnings.com for 30 days.  A one-week telephonic replay may also be accessed by calling (719) 457-0820 and using the passcode 6468816.

ABOUT OTELCO
Otelco Inc. provides wireline telecommunications services in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire and West Virginia. The Company's services include local and long distance telephone, network access, transport, digital high-speed data lines and dial-up internet access, cable television and other telephone related services. With more than 99,000 voice and data access lines, which are collectively referred to as access line equivalents, Otelco is among the top 25 largest local exchange carriers in the United States based on number of access lines. Otelco operates ten incumbent telephone companies serving rural markets, or rural local exchange carriers. It also provides competitive retail and wholesale communications services through several subsidiaries. For more information, visit the Company's website at www.OtelcoInc.com.

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Statements in this press release that are not statements of historical or current fact constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other unknown factors that could cause the actual results of the Company to be materially different from the historical results or from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. In addition to statements which explicitly describe such risks and uncertainties, readers are urged to consider statements labeled with the terms "believes", "belief," "expects," 'intends," "anticipates," "plans," or similar terms to be uncertain and forward-looking. The forward-looking statements contained herein are also subject generally to other risks and uncertainties that are described from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

OTELCO INC.
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
                  As of   As of  
                  December 31,   December 31,  
                  2009   2010  
Assets        
  Current assets                  
    Cash and cash equivalents       $     17,731,044   $     18,226,374  
    Accounts receivable:                
       Due from subscribers, net of allowance for doubtful          
       accounts of $473,572 and $230,752, respectively   4,650,909   4,406,257  
       Unbilled receivables         2,444,979   2,161,277  
       Other           3,200,945   3,257,882  
    Materials and supplies         1,969,966   1,817,311  
    Prepaid expenses         1,342,249   1,305,028  
    Income tax receivable         389,486   -  
    Deferred income taxes         744,531   626,267  
         Total current assets         32,474,109   31,800,396  
                         
  Property and equipment, net       69,028,973   63,887,213  
  Goodwill             188,190,078   188,190,078  
  Intangible assets, net         34,218,115   25,934,042  
  Investments           1,991,158   1,967,095  
  Deferred financing costs         6,964,015   5,757,825  
  Deferred income taxes         4,482,430   4,415,097  
  Prepaid expenses         -   106,685  
  Other assets           179,325   77,261  
         Total assets           $   337,528,203   $   322,135,692  
                         
                                             Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity (Deficit)        
  Current liabilities                
    Accounts payable         $       3,145,728   $       1,523,944  
    Accrued expenses         6,167,023   6,129,859  
    Advance billings and payments       1,665,422   1,595,133  
    Deferred income taxes         394,850   353,285  
    Customer deposits         172,109   172,479  
         Total current liabilities         11,545,132   9,774,700  
  Deferred income taxes         42,239,262   42,512,576  
  Interest rate swaps         1,592,813   2,471,331  
  Advance billings and payments       698,352   656,968  
  Other liabilities         165,968   368,349  
  Long-term notes payable     273,717,301   271,595,855  
         Total liabilities           329,958,828   327,379,779  
                         
  Class B common convertible to senior subordinated notes   4,085,033   -  
                         
  Stockholders' Equity (Deficit)              
    Class A  Common Stock, $.01 par value-authorized 20,000,000 shares;        
    issued and outstanding 12,676,733 and 13,221,404 shares, respectively 126,767   132,214  
    Class B  Common Stock, $.01 par value-authorized 800,000 shares; issued and outstanding 544,671 and 0 shares, respectively 5,447   -  
    Additional paid in capital       10,340,862   921,718  
    Retained deficit         (6,988,734)   (6,298,019)  
         Total stockholders' equity (deficit)       3,484,342   (5,244,087)  
         Total liabilities and stockholders' equity (deficit)     $   337,528,203   $   322,135,692  

                             
                             
OTELCO INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
 
                Three Months Ended   Twelve Months Ended
                December 31,   December 31,
                2009   2010   2009   2010
Revenues                          
  Local services         $   12,126,018   $   12,065,986   $    48,441,222   $    49,014,404
  Network access       8,420,532   8,316,058   33,297,241   32,981,919
  Cable television       655,848   716,754   2,489,011   2,798,672
  Internet           3,484,669   3,455,752   14,027,365   14,014,819
  Transport services       1,368,407   1,395,287   5,500,615   5,590,405
       Total revenues         26,055,474   25,949,837   103,755,454   104,400,219
Operating expenses                      
  Cost of services and products     9,933,348   9,912,225   41,178,502   41,286,418
  Selling, general and administrative expenses     4,022,110   3,299,539   14,164,465   13,074,794
  Depreciation and amortization     6,563,245   5,977,344   26,485,628   23,670,243
       Total operating expenses       20,518,703   19,189,108   81,828,595   78,031,455
                             
  Income from operations     5,536,771   6,760,729   21,926,859   26,368,764
                             
Other income (expense)                    
  Interest expense       (5,901,295)   (6,257,673)   (25,416,024)   (24,746,542)
  Change in fair value of derivatives     (184,887)   542,764   (1,354,759)   (878,518)
  Other income         91,574   23,171   359,484   556,820
       Total other expenses       (5,994,608)   (5,691,738)   (26,411,299)   (25,068,240)
                             
Income (loss) before income tax     (457,837)   1,068,991   (4,484,440)   1,300,524
Income tax (expense) benefit     257,977   (472,974)   1,366,629   (609,809)
                             
Net income (loss) available to common stockholders   $      (199,860)   $        596,017   $     (3,117,811)   $         690,715
                             
Weighted average shares outstanding:                  
  Basic           12,676,733   13,221,404   12,676,733   12,985,629
  Diluted           13,221,404   13,221,404   13,221,404   13,221,404
Basic net income (loss) per share     $            (0.02)   $              0.04   $              (0.25)   $               0.05
Diluted net income (loss) per share     $            (0.02)   $              0.04   $              (0.25)   $               0.05
                             
Dividends declared per share     $              0.18   $              0.18   $                0.71   $               0.71

                     
                     
OTELCO INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
        (unaudited)             
                 Twelve Months Ended 
                 December 31, 
                2009   2010
Cash flows from operating activities:      
  Net income (loss)     $     (3,117,811)   $           690,715
  Adjustments to reconcile net income to cash flows from operating activities:      
    Depreciation     14,444,714   13,837,560
    Amortization     12,040,914   9,832,683
    Interest rate caplet     1,168,522   -
    Amortization of debt premium   (82,212)   (92,307)
    Amortization of loan costs   1,351,906   1,361,351
    Change in fair value of derivatives   1,354,759   878,518
    Provision for deferred income taxes   (1,507,798)   428,098
    Provision for uncollectible revenue   920,945   141,474
    Changes in assets and liabilities; net of assets and liabilities acquired:      
      Accounts receivables     739,921   427,432
      Material and supplies     339,909   152,655
      Prepaid expenses and other assets     (200,341)   (69,464)
      Income tax receivable     (207,842)   389,486
      Accounts payable and accrued liabilities     1,094,474   (1,657,758)
      Advance billings and payments     (400,085)   (111,673)
      Other liabilities     (30,850)   202,751
                     
        Net cash from operating activities 27,909,125   26,411,521
                     
Cash flows from investing activities:        
  Acquisition and construction of property and equipment (9,596,049)   (10,225,229)
  Purchase of investment   -   (1,708)
  Proceeds from retirement of investment (1,085)   1,067
  Wholesale customer acquisition   (179,554)   -
  Deferred charges     (6,551)   (1,845)
                     
        Net cash used in investing activities (9,783,239)   (10,227,715)
                     
Cash flows from financing activities:        
  Cash dividends paid     (8,937,097)   (9,225,091)
  Direct cost of exchange of Class B shares for Class A shares -   (194,053)
  Loan origination costs   -   (155,160)
  Repayment of long-term notes payable (5,000,000)   (6,114,172)
                     
        Net cash used in financing activities (13,937,097)   (15,688,476)
                     
Net increase in cash and cash equivalents 4,188,789   495,330
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period 13,542,255   17,731,044
                     
Cash and cash equivalents, end of period $     17,731,044   $       18,226,374
                     
Supplemental disclosures of cash flow information:      
  Interest paid         $     23,378,798   $       23,484,474
                     
  Income taxes paid (received)   $           67,658   $         (265,275)

SOURCE Otelco Inc.

For further information:

Curtis Garner     
Chief Financial Officer   
Otelco Inc.
205-625-3571
Curtis@otelcotel.com

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Otelco Inc.

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