For the fourth quarter, TW Telecom (NASDAQ:TWTC, news, filings) posted higher than expected revenues but came in lower than I had expected for both EBITDA and earnings per share. Mostly this was due to some hiring they have been doing to put in place the personnel necessary to drive a higher growth rate, plus the effects of October's balance sheet move. The company boosted its sales force by 5.7% and added other support staff rather faster than I expected they might. Here are their Q4 numbers in some context:
|($ in millions)||Q4/11||Q1/12||Q2/12||Q3/12||Q4/12||Comments|
|- Data & Internet Services||171.6||176.8||182.5||189.2||197.8||+4.5%, a very solid number|
|- Network Services||85.4||84.8||83.0||81.3||81.0||matching the trend|
|- Voice Services||86.7||89.6||91.0||91.1||92.1||+1.1% growth|
|- Intercarrier Compensation||7.6||7.6||8.0||7.5||7.0|
|Total Revenue||351.5||358.9||364.5||368.9||377.9||Ahead of expectations|
|M-EBITDA||128.1||131.8||134.0||136.5||138.3||Higher revenue offset by sales force growth.|
|Earnings per share||0.11||0.13||0.13||0.14||0.11||Below analyst estimates, higher GAAP interest|
|Capital Expenditures||86.6||79.1||80.8||83.9||99.6||Forecasting $360-370M for 2013|
|On-net buildings added||566||467||462||552||497||continuing the present trend|
|Free Cash Flow||25.6||37.3||37.7||37.2||17.5||lower due mainly to higher capex|
Revenue was boosted by a one-time settlement of $2.2M, which means that sequentially they aren't expecting much of a jump in the first quarter. Likewise, EBITDA margins for the quarter ahead will be slowed down by seasonal shifts in costs. In addition to the higher sales headcount, tw telecom is planning further product differentiation for 2013, which also ate into EBITDA a bit.
Operationally, they added 497 buildings to their network - right on target. Additionally, they 'found' another 532 previously connected on-net buildings 'during alignment of key operating systems', giving them 17,948 and putting them within shooting range of the 20K milestone next year. Capex rose substantially during the quarter due to an IP backbone upgrade and some strategic fiber purchases - I wonder where they're buying fiber. They forecast 2013 capex of $360-370M, suggesting that the low 90s will be the new quarterly number.
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