ONEONTA, Ala., March 06, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Otelco Inc. (NASDAQ:OTEL), a wireline telecommunications services provider in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia and a provider of cloud hosting and managed services, today announced results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2016. Key highlights for Otelco include:
During fourth quarter 2016, Otelco accepted the FCC’s A-CAM offer in the five states where it was applicable to the Company. The program will allow the Company to enhance and build out its broadband network to provide increased speed and accessibility to customers. The new model-based support provides approximately $1.5 million more in revenue and EBIDTA compared with the revenue it replaces in 2016, including the one state which remains on the historical support program. In addition, A-CAM provides revenue clarity for the next ten years.
The Company also announced it has selected a replacement product for all of its billing and operations systems to put the Company on a common platform across its entire operation. Rob Souza, President and Chief Executive Officer of Otelco, stated, “The conversion planning has begun and we expect the completion of the system conversion over the next 12 months to create an opportunity for more granular customer data, better customer service and improved efficiency of handling customer requirements.”
Fourth quarter 2016 net income and Consolidated EBITDA declined from the same period in 2015 driven by decline in residential voice service, as well as the impact of the FCC’s 2011 access rate order. Higher interest costs associated with the Company’s new credit agreements also had a negative impact on net income.
The Company is pleased with the results of its new products on the non-regulated side. HPBX lines grew by 5.3% in 2016. In addition, during the fourth quarter, the Company was awarded a contract to provide internet and voice service to the community of Leverett, Massachusetts. Coordination of the conversion of over 600 residential lines to the Company’s service has started, and the work should be completed by early second quarter 2017. In December, Otelco also signed a long-term fiber IRU with a national carrier that will enhance Otelco’s transport revenue beginning in March.
Cash grew to $10.5 million at December 31, 2016, from $9.3 million at September 30, 2016, and $6.9 million at December 31, 2015. In addition to the quarterly $1.0 million principal payment on its senior credit facility, Otelco expects to make an “excess cash flow” payment of $3.1 million this week as it continues to de-lever its balance sheet.
“Last quarter, we announced the engagement of The Bank Street Group LLC to explore the Company’s strategic alternatives,” added Souza. “Since the announcement, there have been a number of industry announcements regarding the continuing consolidation activity in the broader telecom market. Management and the Board of Directors are actively involved in our ongoing process. The Company will continue to restrict public comments to those required by applicable law.”
Total revenues decreased 5.0% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $16.8 million from $17.7 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. The decrease in residential RLEC access line equivalents and access revenue decreases due to the FCC’s inter-carrier compensation reform order (the “FCC’s order”) account for the majority of the decline, which was partially offset by an increase in internet, video and security and managed services revenue. The table below provides the components of the Company’s revenues for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared to the same period of 2015.
Local services revenue decreased 7.5% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $5.7 million from $6.2 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. The decline in RLEC residential voice access lines and the impact of the FCC’s order, which reduced or eliminated intrastate and local cellular revenue, accounted for a decrease of $0.3 million. A portion of the RLEC decrease is recovered through the Connect America Fund, which is categorized as interstate access revenue. The decline in long distance and special line revenue accounted for a decrease of $0.2 million. Network access revenue decreased 8.5% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $5.0 million from $5.5 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. A $0.3 million increase in the Connect America Fund was partially offset by a $0.1 million decrease in end user-based fees. In addition, special access charges decreased $0.2 million and switched access decreased $0.5 million. Internet revenue increased 3.6% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $3.9 million from $3.8 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. Higher equipment fees and increased speed accounted for the increase. Transport services revenue decreased 12.2% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $1.2 million from $1.3 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015, reflecting customer churn and market pricing. Video and security revenue in the three months ended December 31, 2016, increased 8.4% from the three months ended December 31, 2015, to slightly more than $0.7 million from slightly under $0.7 million reflecting increases in IPTV and security revenue. Managed services revenue increased 6.1% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, over the comparable period in 2015 to remain at just over $0.2 million, reflecting increases in both cloud hosting and professional services revenue.
Operating expenses in the three months ended December 31, 2016, decreased 3.3% to $12.2 million from $12.6 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. Cost of services decreased 3.1% to $7.9 million in the three months ended December 31, 2016, from $8.2 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. Customer service and sales expense decreased $0.1 million; Hosted PBX equipment expense decreased $0.1 million; and resale facility expense decreased $0.1 million. These decreases were partially offset by an increase of $0.1 million in access, digital circuit and buried cable expense. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 2.7% to $2.4 million in the three months ended December 31, 2016, from $2.3 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. The increase was attributable to a one-time benefit in 2015 associated with the end of an executive retirement liability from a 2003 acquisition. Depreciation and amortization decreased 10.2% in the three months ended December 31, 2016, to $2.0 million from $2.2 million in three months ended December 31, 2015. The amortization of other intangible assets in New England decreased $0.1 million and CLEC depreciation decreased $0.1 million.
Operating income in the three months ended December 31, 2016, decreased 9.2% to $4.6 million from $5.1 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015, primarily related to the decrease in revenue for the period.
Interest expense in the three months ended December 31, 2016, increased 41.8% to $2.7 million from $1.9 million in the three months ended December 31, 2015. Higher interest rates on the Company’s current loan facilities accounted for an increase of $0.7 million and higher loan cost amortization accounted for an increase of $0.1 million.
Net IncomeBased on the changes noted above, net income decreased $0.9 million to $0.9 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, when compared to $1.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2015, primarily driven by increased interest expense.
Based on the changes noted above, Consolidated EBITDA decreased $0.7 million to $6.7 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, when compared to $7.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2015. Consolidated EBITDA was $6.7 million in the third quarter of 2016. Stock based compensation and other excluded expenses are added back in the calculation of Consolidated EBITDA. See financial tables for a reconciliation of Consolidated EBITDA to net income.
As of December 31, 2016, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $10.5 million compared to $6.9 million at the end of 2015. During fourth quarter 2016, the Company reduced its senior credit facility balance by $1.0 million to $82.0 million. Additional reductions of $4.1 million are expected to be made during first quarter 2017, including the annual Excess Cash Flow payment. The $5.0 million revolver remains undrawn.
Capital expenditures were $2.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2016, compared to $2.0 million in the same period in 2015.
Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call
Otelco has scheduled a conference call, which will be broadcast live over the internet, on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). To participate in the call, participants should dial (913) 312-1510 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. 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 for 30 days. A two-week telephonic replay may also be accessed by calling (719) 457-0820 and entering the Confirmation Code 5132244.
Otelco Inc. provides wireline telecommunications services in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia. The Company’s services include local and long distance telephone, digital high-speed data lines, transport services, network access, cable television and other related services. With approximately 94,000 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 eleven incumbent telephone companies serving rural markets, or rural local exchange carriers. It also provides competitive retail and wholesale communications services and technology consulting, managed services and private/hybrid cloud hosting 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 impact the Company’s strategic review and exploration process or 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. There can be no assurance regarding the outcome of any decisions that the Company may make regarding strategic alternatives in connection with the strategic review and exploration process. 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.
Chief Financial Officer
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