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Frontier Communications Reports 2016 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results

NORWALK, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

Frontier Communications Corporation (FTR) today reported its fourth quarter and full year 2016 results and provided an update on its progress with its wireline properties acquired from Verizon in California, Texas, and Florida.

Dan McCarthy, President and CEO, stated, “During the quarter we made significant progress in positioning our company to deliver a better customer experience and improved financial performance, with greater financial flexibility. Our reorganization into separate Commercial and Consumer business units will result in a more customer-centric approach, while reducing expenses and enabling more efficient capital deployment. We now expect annualized cost synergies of $1.6 billion to be achieved by mid-year 2018, up from the $1.4 billion target outlined in the 2016 third quarter earnings report, and a full year earlier than anticipated. We expect $1.25 billion of the $1.6 billion in synergies will be achieved by the end of the first quarter of 2017, which is a quarter earlier than previously announced.”

 

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1 See “Non-GAAP Measures” for a description of this measure and its calculation, and Schedule A for a reconciliation to net loss.
2 Adjusted free cash flow is a non-GAAP measure of liquidity derived from net cash provided from operating activities. See “Non-GAAP Measures” for a description of this measure and its calculation, and Schedule A for a reconciliation to net cash provided from operating activities.
3 Dividend payout ratio is a non-GAAP measure of liquidity derived from dividends paid on common stock (as adjusted) and adjusted free cash flow (see Note 2, above). See “Non-GAAP Measures” for a description of this measure and its calculation, and Schedule C for a reconciliation to the $493 million of dividends paid on common stock in 2016 and Schedule A for the $1,666 million of net cash provided from operating activities in 2016.
 

Mr. McCarthy continued: “Results for the fourth quarter were impacted by our intensified efforts to resolve acquired accounts in California, Texas and Florida that we have determined to be non-paying. This process is almost complete, and we expect to return to a normalized trend by the start of the second quarter. I am pleased that underlying CTF customer trends improved in Q4 and continue to improve in Q1.”

McCarthy continued, “We are taking action to adapt our organization to the opportunities created by the increased scale and scope we recently acquired, to invest wisely in the business, and to improve our financial flexibility. We remain committed to delivering shareholder value going forward, by improving revenue trends and managing expenses to provide healthy free cash flow and maintain our quarterly common dividend through a sustainable payout ratio.”

Financial Highlights for the Fourth Quarter 2016

  • Revenue of $2,409 million
  • Operating income of $255 million; operating margin of 10.6%
  • Net loss attributable to common shareholders of $133 million, or ($0.12) per share, and net loss of $80 million
  • Adjusted EBITDA4 of $966 million; Adjusted EBITDA margin5 of 40.0%
  • Net cash provided from operating activities of $714 million
  • Adjusted free cash flow6 of $316 million
 

___________________________

4 See Note 1, above.
5 Adjusted EBITDA margin is a non-GAAP measure of performance, calculated as Adjusted EBITDA, divided by total revenue. See Schedule A for a reconciliation to net loss.

6 See Note 2, above.

 

Revenues

 

For the quarter ended

 
December 31, 2016   September 30, 2016

($ in millions)

Consolidated
Amount

   

CTF
Operations

 

Frontier
Legacy

Consolidated
Amount

   

CTF
Operations

 

Frontier
Legacy

Total revenue

 

$2,409

$1,128

 

$1,281

 

$2,524

$1,212

 

$1,312

           

Revenues for the fourth quarter were $2,409 million, compared to $2,524 million in the third quarter. Approximately $45 million of the sequential decline in revenue was related to resolution of CTF accounts that were determined to be non-paying following an intensified effort to address overdue accounts. Frontier began the normal process of addressing overdue accounts in the CTF markets in July 2016, following completion of the cutover. The resolution of those overdue accounts accelerated to an above-normal pace during the fourth quarter.

Frontier anticipates that the impact of this resolution process will decline to approximately $25 million in the first quarter of 2017. This initiative is nearly complete and Frontier expects to be processing overdue accounts in a normal manner before the end of the first quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue trends in Legacy reflect some disruption from the integration activity underway in the third quarter. Legacy sales trends began to improve in the last month of the fourth quarter.

Customers

     
As of and for the quarter ended
December 31, 2016   September 30, 2016
Residential customer metrics:    
Customers (in thousands) 4,891 5,035
Average monthly residential revenue per customer $80.33 $82.34
Customer monthly churn 2.08% 2.08%
Business customer metrics:
Customers (in thousands) 502 516
Average monthly business revenue per customer $665.04 $668.30
Broadband subscribers (in thousands) 4,271 4,362
Video subscribers (in thousands) 1,419 1,503
 

Operating Expenses

Frontier reduced total operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2016 by $106 million, or 4.7%, to $2,154 million from $2,260 million in the third quarter. Frontier reduced adjusted operating expenses7 in the fourth quarter of 2016 by $82 million, or 5.4%, to $1,443 million from $1,525 million in the third quarter. Acquisition and integration expenses for the fourth quarter of 2016 were $49 million, as compared with $122 million in the third quarter.

 

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7 Adjusted operating expenses is a non-GAAP measure of performance derived from total operating expenses. See “Non-GAAP Measures” for a description of this measure and its calculation, and Schedule C for a reconciliation to total operating expenses.

 

Cash Flow

Net cash provided from operating activities was $1,666 million for full-year 2016. Adjusted free cash flow8 was $921 million for full-year 2016, achieving Frontier’s guidance target. Frontier’s dividend payout ratio9 was 39% in the fourth quarter of 2016, reduced from the 74% dividend payout ratio in the third quarter. For the full-year 2016, the dividend payout ratio was 52%.

 

___________________________

8 See Note 2, above.
9 See Note 3, above.
 

Guidance

For the full year 2017, Frontier expects:

  • Adjusted free cash flow – $800 million to $1.0 billion
  • Capital expenditures – $1.0 billion to $1.25 billion
  • Integration – operating expense less than $50 million; capital expenditures less than $50 million
  • Cash taxes – $0 to $50 million

Amendment of Credit Facilities

Frontier also announced that it amended its April 2021 term loan and revolving credit facilities on February 27, 2017, combining them into a single credit agreement. The amendments provide Frontier with more flexible terms, upsize the revolver to $850 million, extend it from 2018 to 2022, and unify the covenants for the April 2021 term loan and the revolver. Pricing remains unchanged. The most significant change in the covenants is an increase of the maximum Leverage Ratio (as defined) to the following levels:

     
Maximum Leverage Ratio   Starting
5.25:1   Now
5.0:1   Second quarter 2018
4.75:1   Second quarter 2019
4.5:1   Second quarter 2020
 

In addition, the enhanced security package that Frontier will be providing will expand Frontier’s capital market access, which will enable Frontier to reduce its cost of capital and improve free cash flow.

Perley McBride, Frontier’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, commented: “These amendments significantly improve and solidify Frontier’s finance picture, and provide us with additional flexibility as we transition to normalized operations in the acquired CTF properties over the coming quarters.”

Reverse Stock Split Proposal

Frontier also announced that its Board of Directors has approved and will place before Frontier’s stockholders at the May 2017 Annual Meeting a charter amendment for a reverse stock split of Frontier Communications common stock. The charter amendment will provide for a reverse stock split ratio between 1-for-10 and 1-for-25, with the Board designating the final ratio within 90 days after the charter amendment is approved by stockholders. Concurrent with the reverse stock split, the conversion ratio of Frontier’s Series A 11.125% Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock will automatically be adjusted proportionately.

Non-GAAP Measures

Frontier uses certain non-GAAP financial measures in evaluating its performance, including EBITDA, EBITDA margin, adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA margin, free cash flow, adjusted free cash flow, adjusted operating expenses, adjusted net income, and dividend payout ratio, each of which is described below. Management uses these non-GAAP financial measures internally to (i) assist in analyzing Frontier's underlying financial performance from period to period, (ii) analyze and evaluate strategic and operational decisions, (iii) establish criteria for compensation decisions, and (iv) assist in the understanding of Frontier's ability to generate cash flow and, as a result, to plan for future capital and operational decisions. We believe that the presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures provides useful information to investors regarding our financial condition and results of operations because these measures, when used in conjunction with related GAAP financial measures (i) provide a more comprehensive view of our core operations and ability to generate cash flow, (ii) provide investors with the financial analytical framework upon which management bases financial, operational, compensation and planning decisions and (iii) present measurements that investors and rating agencies have indicated to management are useful to them in assessing Frontier and its results of operations.

A reconciliation of these measures to the most comparable financial measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP is included in the accompanying tables. These non-GAAP financial measures are not measures of financial performance or liquidity under GAAP, nor are they alternatives to GAAP measures and they may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies.

EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) less income tax expense (benefit), investment and other income, interest expense and depreciation and amortization. EBITDA margin is calculated by dividing EBITDA by total revenues.

Adjusted EBITDA is defined as EBITDA, as described above, adjusted to exclude acquisition and integration costs, non-cash pension/OPEB costs, and restructuring costs and other charges. Adjusted EBITDA margin is calculated by dividing adjusted EBITDA by total revenues.

Management uses EBITDA, EBITDA margin, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin to assist it in comparing performance from period to period and as measures of operational performance. We believe that these non-GAAP measures provide useful information for investors in evaluating our operational performance from period to period because they exclude depreciation and amortization expenses related to investments made in prior periods and are determined without regard to capital structure or investment activities. By excluding capital expenditures, debt repayments and dividends, these non-GAAP financial measures have certain shortcomings. Management compensates for these shortcomings by utilizing these non-GAAP financial measures in conjunction with the comparable GAAP financial measures.

Adjusted net income (loss) attributable to Frontier common shareholders is defined as net income (loss) attributable to Frontier common shareholders and excludes acquisition and integration costs, certain income tax items, restructuring costs and other charges, and the income tax effect of these items. Adjustments have also been made to exclude the financing costs and related income tax effects associated with the Verizon Acquisition, including interest expense and preferred dividends prior to our ownership of the CTF Operations. Adjusting for these items allows investors to better understand and analyze our financial performance over the periods presented.

Free Cash Flow, as used by management in the operation of its business, is defined as net cash provided from operating activities less capital expenditures for business operations and preferred dividends. In determining free cash flow, further adjustments are made to add back acquisition and integration costs, and interest expense on commitment fees, which provides a better comparison of our core operations from period to period. Changes in working capital accounts are excluded from this calculation due to seasonality and specific timing of cash receipts and disbursements between various reporting periods.

Adjusted Free Cash Flow is defined as free cash flow, as described above and adding back interest expense on incremental debt and dividends paid, prior to our ownership of the CTF Operations, on debt incurred and on preferred stock issued to finance the Verizon Acquisition.

Management uses Free Cash Flow and Adjusted Free Cash Flow to assist it in comparing performance and liquidity from period to period and to obtain a more comprehensive view of our core operations and ability to generate cash flow. We believe that these non-GAAP measures are useful to investors in evaluating cash available to service debt and pay dividends. In addition, we believe that Adjusted Free Cash Flow provides a useful comparison from period to period because it excludes the impact of financing raised in connection with the Verizon Acquisition during periods prior to our ownership of the CTF Operations. These non-GAAP financial measures have certain shortcomings; they do not represent the residual cash flow available for discretionary expenditures, since items such as debt repayments, changes in working capital and common stock dividends are not deducted in determining such measures. Management compensates for these shortcomings by utilizing these non-GAAP financial measures in conjunction with the comparable GAAP financial measures.

Dividend Payout Ratio is calculated by dividing the dividends paid on common stock (as adjusted) by adjusted free cash flow. Dividends paid on common stock has been adjusted to exclude dividends paid on common stock issued in June 2015, from the date of issuance until April 1, 2016, when the proceeds of the issuance were used in the Verizon Acquisition that generated adjusted free cash flow from that date, which we believe provides a useful comparison from period to period. Management uses the dividend payout ratio as a metric to indicate how much money Frontier is returning to our shareholders.

Adjusted Operating Expenses is defined as operating expenses adjusted to exclude depreciation and amortization, acquisition and integration costs, non-cash pension/OPEB costs, and restructuring costs and other charges. Investors have indicated that this non-GAAP measure is useful in evaluating Frontier’s performance.

The information in this press release should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and footnotes contained in our documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Conference Call and Webcast

We will host a conference call today at 4:30 P.M. Eastern time. In connection with the conference call and as a convenience to investors, Frontier furnished today, on a Current Report on Form 8-K, additional materials regarding full year and fourth quarter 2016 results. The conference call will be webcast and may be accessed at http://investor.frontier.com/events.cfm.

A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available from 8 P.M. Eastern time on February 27, 2017 through 8 P.M. Eastern time on March 4, 2017, via dial-in at 888-203-1112 for U.S. and Canadian callers or, outside the United States and Canada, at 719-457-0820. Use the passcode 7061163 to access the replay. A webcast replay of the call will be available at www.frontier.com/ir.

About Frontier Communications

Frontier Communications Corporation (FTR) is a leader in providing communications services to urban, suburban, and rural communities in 29 states. Frontier offers a variety of services to residential customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks, including video, high-speed internet, advanced voice, and Frontier Secure® digital protection solutions. Frontier’s video offerings include Frontier FiOS® and Vantage TV by Frontier™ with 100 percent HD picture quality, Total Home DVR, instant channel change, enhanced search, Video on Demand, and much more. Business Edge™ offers communications solutions to small, medium, and enterprise businesses. More information about Frontier is available at www.frontier.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This earnings release contains "forward-looking statements," related to future, not past, events. Forward-looking statements address our expected future business and financial performance and financial condition, and contain words such as "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "believe," "seek," "see," "will," "would," or "target." Forward-looking statements by their nature address matters that are, to different degrees, uncertain. For us, particular uncertainties that could cause our actual results to be materially different than those expressed in our forward-looking statements include: competition from cable, wireless and wireline carriers, satellite, and OTT companies, and the risk that we will not respond on a timely or profitable basis; our ability to successfully adjust to changes in the communications industry, including the effects of technological changes and competition on our capital expenditures, products and service offerings; our ability to implement successfully our organizational structure changes; risks related to the operation of properties acquired from Verizon, including our ability to retain or obtain customers in those markets, our ability to realize anticipated cost savings, and our ability to meet commitments made in connection with the acquisition; reductions in revenue from our voice customers that we cannot offset with increases in revenue from broadband and video subscribers and sales of other products and services; our ability to maintain relationships with customers, employees or suppliers; the impact of regulation and regulatory, investigative and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; continued reductions in switched access revenues as a result of regulation, competition or technology substitutions; the effects of changes in the availability of federal and state universal service funding or other subsidies to us and our competitors; our ability to effectively manage service quality in our territories and meet mandated service quality metrics; our ability to successfully introduce new product offerings; the effects of changes in accounting policies or practices, including potential future impairment charges with respect to our intangible assets; our ability to effectively manage our operations, operating expenses, capital expenditures, debt service requirements and cash paid for income taxes and liquidity, which may affect payment of dividends on our common and preferred shares; the effects of changes in both general and local economic conditions on the markets that we serve; the effects of increased medical expenses and pension and postemployment expenses; the effects of changes in income tax rates, tax laws, regulations or rulings, or federal or state tax assessments; our ability to successfully renegotiate union contracts; changes in pension plan assumptions, interest rates, regulatory rules and/or the value of our pension plan assets, which could require us to make increased contributions to the pension plan in 2017 and beyond; adverse changes in the credit markets; adverse changes in the ratings given to our debt securities by nationally accredited ratings organizations; the availability and cost of financing in the credit markets; covenants in our indentures and credit agreements that may limit our operational and financial flexibility; the effects of state regulatory cash management practices that could limit our ability to transfer cash among our subsidiaries or dividend funds up to the parent company; the effects of severe weather events or other natural or man-made disasters, which may increase our operating expenses or adversely impact customer revenue; the impact of potential information technology or data security breaches or other disruptions; and the risks and other factors contained in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including our reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Any of the foregoing events, or other events, could cause our results to vary from management’s forward-looking statements included in this earnings release. These risks and uncertainties may cause our actual future results to be materially different than those expressed in our forward-looking statements. We have no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements and do not undertake to do so.

             

Frontier Communications Corporation

Consolidated Financial Data

 
For the quarter ended For the year ended

December 31,

September 30, December 31, December 31,

($ in millions and shares in thousands, except per share amounts)

2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
 
Statement of Operations Data
Revenue $ 2,409 $ 2,524 $ 1,413 $ 8,896 $ 5,576
 
Operating expenses:
Network access expenses 417 440 165 1,470 640
Network related expenses 488 527 318 1,887 1,287
Selling, general and administrative expenses 558 582 343 2,093 1,346
Depreciation and amortization 562 578 319 2,031 1,320
Acquisition and integration costs 49 122 86 436 236
Restructuring costs and other charges   80   11 -   91   2
Total operating expenses   2,154   2,260 1,231   8,008   4,831
 
Operating income 255 264 182 888 745
 
Investment and other income (loss), net 13 (4) 4 20 7
Interest expense   386   386   362   1,531   1,113
 
Loss before income taxes (118) (126) (176) (623) (361)
Income tax benefit   (38)   (46)   (73)   (250)   (165)
 
Net loss (80) (80) (103) (373) (196)
 
Less: Dividends on preferred stock 53 54 53 214 120
Net loss attributable to Frontier                    
common shareholders $ (133) $ (134) $ (156) $ (587) $ (316)
 
Weighted average shares outstanding - basic and diluted 1,164,085 1,164,172 1,161,148 1,164,099 1,084,606
 
Basic and diluted net loss per common share $ (0.12) $ (0.12) $ (0.14) $ (0.51) $ (0.29)
 
 
Other Financial Data:
Capital expenditures - Business operations $ 299 $ 403 $ 185 $ 1,259 $ 710
Capital expenditures - Integration activities 43 11 52 142 153
Dividends paid - Common Stock 123 124 123 493 456
Dividends paid - Preferred Stock 53 54 53 214 120
 
               

Frontier Communications Corporation

Consolidated Financial Data

   
For the quarter ended
December 31, 2016 September 30, 2016
Consolidated CTF Frontier Consolidated CTF Frontier December 31,

($ in millions)

Amount   Operations Legacy Amount   Operations   Legacy   2015
 
Selected Statement of
Operations Data
Revenue:
Voice services $ 774 $ 339 $ 435 $ 809 $ 359 $ 450 $ 482
Data and internet services 1,013 439 574 1,045 464 581 589
Video services 365 300 65 392 327 65 71
Other   58   (2)   60   73   8   65     65
Customer revenue 2,210 1,076 1,134 2,319 1,158 1,161 1,207
Switched access and subsidy   199   52   147   205   54   151     206
Total revenue $ 2,409 $ 1,128 $ 1,281 $ 2,524 $ 1,212 $ 1,312   $ 1,413
 
Other Financial Data
Revenue:
Residential $ 1,196 $ 637 $ 559 $ 1,272 $ 702 $ 570 $ 594
Business   1,014   439   575   1,047   456   591     613
Customer revenue 2,210 1,076 1,134 2,319 1,158 1,161 1,207
Switched access and subsidy   199   52   147   205   54   151     206
Total revenue $ 2,409 $ 1,128 $ 1,281 $ 2,524 $ 1,212 $ 1,312   $ 1,413
 
 
Operating Expenses
Network access expenses $ 417 $ 268 $ 149 $ 440 $ 286 $ 154 $ 165
Network related expenses 488 199 289 527 206 321 318
Selling, general and administrative
expenses 558 246 312 582 245 337 343
Acquisition and integration costs 49 - 49 122 - 122 86
Restructuring costs and other charges   80   26   54   11   8   3   -
Cost and expenses (exclusive
of depreciation and amortization) 1,592 739 853 1,682 745 937 912
Depreciation and amortization   562   261   301   578   277   301     319
Total Operating Expenses $ 2,154 $ 1,000 $ 1,154 $ 2,260 $ 1,022 $ 1,238   $ 1,231
 
           
Frontier Communications Corporation
Consolidated Financial Data
 
For the year ended
December 31, 2016
Consolidated CTF Frontier December 31,

($ in millions)

Amount Operations (1) Legacy 2015
 
Selected Statement of
Operations Data
Revenue:
Voice services $ 2,886 $ 1,077 $ 1,809 $ 2,022
Data and internet services 3,693 1,366 2,327 2,337
Video services 1,244 978 266 285
Other   276   26   250   255
Customer revenue 8,099 3,447 4,652 4,899
Switched access and subsidy   797   175   622   677
Total revenue $ 8,896 $ 3,622 $ 5,274 $ 5,576
 
Other Financial Data
Revenue:
Residential $ 4,383 $ 2,092 $ 2,291 $ 2,432
Business   3,716   1,355   2,361   2,467
Customer revenue 8,099 3,447 4,652 4,899
Switched access and subsidy   797   175   622   677
Total revenue $ 8,896 $ 3,622 $ 5,274 $ 5,576
 
Operating Expenses
Network access expenses $ 1,470 $ 852 $ 618 $ 640
Network related expenses 1,887 623 1,264 1,287
Selling, general and administrative expenses 2,093 731 1,362 1,346
Acquisition and integration costs 436 - 436 236
Restructuring costs and other charges   91   34   57   2
Cost and expenses (exclusive of depreciation 5,977 2,240 3,737 3,511
and amortization)
Depreciation and amortization   2,031   800   1,231   1,320
Total Operating Expenses $ 8,008 $ 3,040 $ 4,968 $ 4,831
 
(1)   Includes operating results of the CTF Operations for the nine month period since April 1, 2016, the date of the CTF Acquisition.
 
                   

Frontier Communications Corporation

Consolidated Financial and Operating Data
 
For the quarter ended For the year ended
December 31, September 30, December 31, December 31,
2016 2016 2015 2016 2015
 
Customers (in thousands) 5,393 (1) 5,551 (1) 3,413 5,393 (1) 3,413
Residential customer metrics:
Customers (in thousands) 4,891 (1) 5,035 (1) 3,124 4,891 (1) 3,124
Average monthly residential
revenue per customer $ 80.33 $ 82.34 $ 63.14 $ 77.47 $ 63.93
Customer monthly churn 2.08% 2.08% 1.76% 1.98% 1.82%
 
Business customer metrics:
Customers (in thousands) 502 (1) 516 (1) 289 502 (1) 289
Average monthly business
revenue per customer $ 665.04 $ 668.30 $ 700.03 $ 673.72 $ 690.88
 
Employees 28,332 30,358 19,160 28,332 19,160
Broadband subscribers (in thousands) 4,271 (2) 4,362 (2) 2,462 4,271 (2) 2,462
Video subscribers (in thousands) 1,419 (2) 1,503 (2) 554 1,419 (2) 554
 

(1)

  2,283,000 residential customers, 250,000 business customers and 2,533,000 total customers were acquired at the time of the April 2016 CTF Acquisition.

(2)

2,052,000 broadband subscribers and 1,165,000 video subscribers were acquired at the time of the April 2016 CTF Acquisition.
 
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Frontier Communications Corporation

Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet Data

 

($ in millions)

December 31, 2016 December 31, 2015
 

ASSETS