I was going to wait to update my series of comparative metrics (revenue growth trends, EBITDA margin, Capex, etc) this until XO Holdings (news, filings) reported earnings, but they're later than usual and there seems to be no ETA. When they do report, I will try to update the graphics. I do realize that Murphy's Law says it will be 10 minutes after I post this... So, now that everyone else has reported, let's take a look at relative revenue trends across the sector over the past 8 quarters. The companies (or parts of companies) all offer various combinations of voice, data, and raw bandwidth in competition with the ILECs primarily to the US wholesale and enterprise markets. As a rule, they have little or no consumer focus. With no further ado:
It always strikes me just how orderly this graph is. Revenues can be bumpy, especially in a recession like we had last year. But generally those who were growing and those who were shrinking kept shrinking - and that continued in the fourth quarter. Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) showed some signs of life, finally diverging from Sprint Wireline's steady decline, but they'll need to keep that up for a few quarters before we can call it a turnaround. If anyone were giving out awards based on this graph, Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI, news, filings) would win the 'most improved revenue growth' award for 2009, following a weak 2008.
But the oddest feature on this graph is the pair at the top: cbey and abvt. Operationally, these two companies are complete opposites - the former focusing on low bandwidth customers over leased infrastructure, and the latter focusing on high bandwidth customers over their own fiber. And yet, they have been growing almost in lock step for a couple years now, outpacing the field while operating side by side in almost the same set of tier 1 cities at rather similar overall revenue levels. Revenue isn't everything of course, but it is still interesting to see CBeyond's performance so far from other fiber-light service providers on the same chart.
This very well may be the last time we see RCN Metro on the list if they go private. Next up: EBITDA Margin trends for the same group of carriers.