Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Qwest Reports Mixed Q3 Results, Announces 1,200 Job Cuts

Qwest Communications reported Q3 net revenue of $3.4 billion, a decline of 2 percent year over year but flat with the second quarter of 2008. Q3 net income was $151 million, or $0.09 per diluted share. This compares to net income of $2.1 billion, or $1.08 per diluted share, during the same period in 2007. The year-ago period results included a one-time tax benefit of $2.1 billion and a $353 million charge for legal matters. The current quarter net income includes a charge of $63 million for severance and a lease restructuring benefit of $33 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $1.08 billion compared to $1.15 billion in the prior year and $1.14 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

Some notable items from the Q3 2008 report:

  • Qwest expects to reduce its workforce during the fourth quarter by approximately 1,200, or a little more than 3 percent of the total workforce as of the end of the third quarter.

  • Customer demand for data services across all business segments contributed to 10 percent year-over-year growth in total data, Internet and video services revenue. Sequentially, data, Internet and video revenue grew by 4 percent on the strength of Business and Wholesale results.

  • Total voice services revenue of $1.8 billion declined 8 percent year over year and continued to be impacted by increased wireless substitution, cable competition and deteriorating economic trends. At the end of the third quarter, total access lines were 11.9 million -- a decline of 8.9 percent compared to the third quarter of 2007.

  • Mass Markets third quarter revenue was $1.4 billion, a 5 percent decline compared to the prior year and a 2 percent decline compared to the second quarter. Excluding wireless, revenue declined 4 percent year over year and 1 percent sequentially. Voice services revenue declined 9 percent compared to the prior year and 2 percent sequentially due to lower access lines. The launch of wireless customer migration efforts impacted wireless service revenue, which declined 15 percent year over year and 6 percent compared to the second quarter. This rate of decline is expected to accelerate in upcoming quarters. Data, Internet and video revenue improved 12 percent compared to the third quarter of 2007 and 1 percent sequentially.

  • Net broadband subscribers increased by 61,000 in the quarter with nearly 40,000 subscribers purchasing services over Qwest's FTTN network. The company continues to see strong demand for higher speed services with the majority of FTTN customers opting for connection speeds of 7Mbps or higher.

  • Video subscribers increased by 39,000 during the quarter resulting in total video subscribers of 761,000. Wireless subscribers fell by 45,000 due, in part, to migration efforts. At the end of the third quarter, Mass Markets access lines were 8.0 million, a decline of 9.7 percent from the year-ago period.

  • Mass Markets segment income declined by 7 percent sequentially and 5 percent compared to the year-ago period. Segment income margin of 47.2 percent fell from 49.9 percent in the second quarter and was flat compared to the year-ago period. In addition to the effects of on-going access line losses, the third quarter margin also reflects sequential increases in marketing and bad debt expense offset by lower wireless operating costs.

  • Third quarter revenue in Wholesale Markets was $815 million, a decline of 5 percent year over year as a result of local access line erosion and lower long-distance voice revenue. Sequentially, revenue declined by 1 percent as results in data and Internet revenue partially offset voice services revenue declines.

"In the quarter, our financial results were again mixed," said Edward A. Mueller, Qwest's chairman and CEO. "We are pleased with the rebound in broadband sales in the quarter, and our Business Markets reported a strong top-line. We also produced solid free cash flow. However, our margins were impacted by fewer consumer access lines and a less profitable revenue mix. Reflecting our cautious outlook on the near-term direction of the economy, we have taken a number of steps to keep our costs aligned with customer demand and maintain maximum financial strength and flexibility."http://www.qwest.com

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