Hybrid fiber/wireless backhaul network operator ftwr reported Q4 earnings last night. With all the restructuring activity, it is somewhat difficult to make sense of the company’s numbers right off the bat. However, the balance sheet now has $50.7M in unrestricted cash and $154.5M in long term debt, much easier to support but at the cost of three times as many shares outstanding. They have bought themselves time, so where are they operationally?
Revenues climbed to $16.7M, up from both $14.3 last year and $16.2 in the third quarter. Average monthly billing per site rose to $1995 from $1732 last year and $1931 in the prior quarter. That’s fairly steady growth, their problem has been that they need more than steady growth to achieve the scale where their business makes sense. That’s why adjusted EBITDA is still negative, in this case -$2.2M. Nevertheless that number has been improving.
So what does 2010 hold for FiberTower? Well, they should be able to loosen those purse strings a bit again. They only spent $8.6M on capex in 2009, down over 75% from the prior year as they battened down the hatches after the credit markets disappeared. And that included a $4.2M IRU from, presumably, the Fiberlight deal – unless there’s another one out there somewhere.
Since 2010 and 2011 are supposed to be filled with 4G rollouts – both LTE and WiMAX – and the rising tide of data from smartphones – both the iPhone and Google’s Android – FiberTower ought to find a favorable environment for real growth. This should be the best hunting ground they’ve ever had, hopefully it will turn out that way.
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