Iridium Communications Inc. (“Iridium”) today reported solid financial results for the fourth quarter of 2011 and issued its outlook for the full-year 2012. Net income was $8.4 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2011, as compared to $10.1 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2010. Operational EBITDA (“OEBITDA”)(1) for the fourth quarter was $44.3 million, as compared to $42.3 million for the prior-year period, representing year-over-year growth of 5 percent and an OEBITDA margin(1) of 47 percent. OEBITDA benefited from solid growth in commercial service and government service revenue.
Iridium reported fourth-quarter total revenue of $95.0 million, which consisted of $66.6 million of service revenue and $28.4 million of equipment, engineering and support revenue. Total revenue grew 8 percent versus the comparable period of 2010, while service revenue increased 11 percent from the year-ago period. Service revenue, which represents primarily recurring revenue from Iridium’s growing subscriber base, was 70 percent of total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2011.
The Company ended the quarter with 523,000 total billable subscribers, which compares to 427,000 for the year-ago period and 508,000 for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. Total billable subscribers grew 22 percent year-over-year, driven by strength across all primary product lines.
Capital expenditures were $119.1 million for the fourth quarter and primarily related to spending for the Company’s next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, and upgraded ground network infrastructure at its commercial gateway. The Company ended the fourth quarter with a cash and cash equivalents balance of $136.4 million and gross debt of $417.1 million. Net debt was $253.8 million.
“2011 was a record year for Iridium as we reached important milestones for subscriber, service revenue and cash flow growth,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “Our ongoing success is rooted in having a superior network, unmatched capabilities in the highest growth segments of our market and a sustainable set of product-related competitive advantages anchored by a motivated partner channel. 2012 is shaping up to be another year of growth as we expect to cross the $200 million Operational EBITDA threshold on our way to launching Iridium NEXT.”
Desch continued, “We’re obsessive innovators, and we’ll continue to expand and improve our service portfolio in 2012 and beyond. With the recent launch of Iridium PilotTM, our second-generation maritime broadband platform, we’re bringing enhanced voice and broadband data capabilities to our customers all over the world at a low cost. We’ll also deliver a new, 70 percent smaller M2M device in the next few months, building on the success of a market that has grown subscribers at least 50 percent year-over-year for five consecutive quarters. Iridium remains healthy and strong, and we continue to make the right decisions to support recurring service revenue growth and operating cash flow expansion.”
Full-Year 2011 Iridium Business Highlights
For the full year, Iridium reported net income of $39.7 million, or $0.54 per diluted share, as compared to net income of $22.7 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for 2010. The Company reported 2011 total revenue of $384.3 million, which included $262.3 million of service revenue and $122.0 million of equipment, engineering and support revenue. OEBITDA for 2011 was $190.4 million, as compared to $158.9 million for the prior-year, representing year-over-year growth of 20 percent and an OEBITDA margin of 49 percent. Capital expenditures were $359.4 million for the full-year 2011.
Fourth-Quarter Iridium Business Highlights
Service — Commercial
Commercial service remained the largest part of Iridium’s business, representing 53 percent of the Company’s total revenue during the fourth quarter. The Company’s commercial customer base is diverse and includes markets such as maritime, aviation, oil and gas, mining, recreation, forestry, construction, transportation and emergency services. These customers rely on Iridium’s products and services as critical to their daily operations and integral to their communications and business infrastructure.
Commercial service revenue was $50.6 million, a 14 percent increase from last year’s comparable period, primarily supported by gains in M2M data, handheld voice and Iridium OpenPort® high-speed maritime customers.
Commercial voice average revenue per user (“ARPU”) was $46 during the fourth quarter, a 2 percent year-over-year decrease. Voice ARPU declined primarily due to lower postpaid customer usage of L-Band transceivers, partially offset by growth in the higher ARPU Iridium OpenPort service. Commercial M2M data ARPU was $18 during the fourth quarter, unchanged from last year’s comparable period.
Iridium’s commercial business ended the quarter with 475,000 billable subscribers, which compares to 384,000 for the prior-year quarter and to 459,000 for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. M2M data subscribers increased 50 percent year-over-year and represented 35 percent of billable commercial subscribers, an increase from 29 percent at the end of the prior-year period. Commercial voice subscribers increased 14 percent from the year-ago period.
Service — Government
Iridium has grown in the last several years from a niche supplier to an integral element in the U.S. Government communications infrastructure. Iridium’s voice and data solutions improve situational awareness for military personnel and track critical assets in tough environments around the globe, providing a unique value proposition that is not easily duplicated.
Government service revenue was $16.0 million, a 3 percent increase from the prior-year period, primarily driven by growth in Netted IridiumSM and M2M data subscribers.
Government voice ARPU was $138 during the fourth quarter, a 2 percent year-over-year decrease. Voice ARPU declined as a result of growth in lower-priced Netted Iridium subscribers. Government M2M data ARPU was $19 during the fourth quarter, down 14 percent from last year’s comparable period, as lower-ARPU tracking devices continued to become a bigger part of the government’s M2M subscriber profile.
Iridium’s government business ended the quarter with 48,000 billable subscribers, which compares to 43,000 for the prior-year quarter and to 49,000 for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. Government voice subscribers decreased on a sequential basis primarily due to a reconciliation by the Defense Information Systems Agency of its active subscriber accounts. M2M data subscribers increased 57 percent year-over-year and represented 23 percent of billable government subscribers, an increase from 16 percent at the end of the prior-year period.
Equipment revenue was $22.5 million during the fourth quarter, a 7 percent year-over-year increase. Revenue increased primarily due to strong M2M and handset sales volumes. Iridium continues to see strong demand for its devices with overall unit sales growing 60 percent year-over-year.
Engineering & Support
Engineering and support revenue was $5.9 million during the fourth quarter, a decline of 14 percent from the prior-year period, primarily resulting from a decrease in lower margin contract revenue on government projects.
Iridium NEXT and Hosted Payloads Update
Iridium has completed the preliminary design review for its new satellite system, Iridium NEXT, the first major milestone in a five-year development schedule. The Company is still on track to begin deploying Iridium NEXT in early 2015.
Iridium expects to announce the details of its primary hosted payload mission in the second quarter of 2012. The Company believes the most likely opportunity is the formation of a global aviation monitoring business, which would deploy a payload that monitors aircraft all over the world and then supplies that information in near real-time to Air Navigation Service Providers such as the Federal Aviation Administration, Nav Canada, NATS and others. Iridium believes that providing aircraft control surveillance over oceans and remote regions is a potentially transformational capability, allowing airlines to fly more optimal routes, save billions of dollars in fuel and reduce carbon emissions and improving air traffic safety in these regions.
The Company issued its full-year 2012 outlook for total billable subscriber growth, service revenue and OEBITDA. The Company expects:
Total billable subscriber growth between 20 percent and 25 percent for the full-year 2012
Total service revenue growth between 8 percent and 11 percent for the full-year 2012
Full-year 2012 OEBITDA to be between $210 million and $220 million. OEBITDA for 2011 was $190.4 million.