CNSL

Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (CNSL)

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Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (CNSL)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

November 4, 2010 11:00 am ET

Executives

Matt Smith – Treasurer and Director of Finance

Robert Currey – President and CEO

Steve Childers – SVP and CFO

Analysts

Gray Powell – Wells Fargo Securities

Barry Sine – CapStone Investments

Presentation

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Consolidated Communications Holdings third quarter 2010 results conference. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we have a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator instructions) As a reminder, today’s conference may be recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Matt Smith, Treasurer. Sir, you may begin.

Matt Smith

Thank you Mary, and good morning everyone. Welcome to our third quarter 2010 earnings call to review the company’s results that were released this morning. Joining me on the call today are Bob Currey, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Steve Childers, Chief Financial Officer.

After the prepared remarks, we'll conduct a question-and-answer session. I will now review the Safe Harbor provisions of the call and then turn it over to Bob. This call may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Such forward-looking statements reflect among other things management's current expectations, plans and strategies and anticipated financial results, all of which are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and factors that may cause the actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Please see our public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for more information about forward-looking statements and related risk factors.

In addition, during this call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures. Our earnings release for this quarter's results, which has been posted to the Investor Relations section of our website, contains reconciliations of these measures to their nearest GAAP equivalent.

I will now turn the call over to Bob, who will provide an overview of our financial and operating results. Steve Childers will then provide a more detailed review of the financials. Bob?

Robert Currey

Thanks Matt, and good morning everyone. We appreciate you joining us today as we review our results for the quarter. And is our normal practice, I will start with high-level financial and operating highlights, and then Steve will provide a detailed review of those financials.

The third quarter was another solid one for us. Revenue and adjusted EBITDA were $95.6 million and $45.2 million respectively. We delivered another solid and secure return to our shareholders with a 73.1% payout ratio for the quarter and 69% year-to-date. With respect to our operating performance, I am pleased to report our total connections grew by 600 in the period, led by a record IPTV subscriber growth and industry-leading access line performance. We grew IPTV subscribers by 1,900 in the quarter and now serve 28,000. They are increasingly choosing our full suite of digital TV offerings. Our HD and DVR penetrations also increased in the quarter to 22% and 24% respectively. These additional services are becoming very popular and along with increased video on demand consumption, have helped drive our video ARPU to near $60 per sub.

Finally, with respect to IPTV, we hit a milestone this quarter by passing over 200,000 homes, and we currently penetrate 14% of these. We increased our total broadband connections by 3,400 in the quarter. This is the fourth consecutive quarter we have increased our broadband connections by more than our access line declines. This highlights our success in the multi-year transition from being a traditional voice telephone company to a leading provider of broadband services.

Our total broadband connections now stand at 133,000, which represents a year-over-year increase of more than 11%. Our industry-leading DSL penetration stands at 44%, and our triple play subscriber count is now at 24,000. And importantly, 9 out of 10 of our video subscribers choose the full triple play with the voice offering.

Clearly, our broadband success is positively impacting access line performance as our year-over-year line loss was 4.3%, representing our best rate in three years and reflecting a 42% improvement over the same period in 2009. As a comparison, at the end of the third quarter last year, our line loss for the trailing 12-month period was 7.4%.

And finally, we spoke last quarter about the growth we are seeing with our Metro E copper and fiber products in commercial opportunities. The third quarter was another solid quarter for Metro E circuit growth, with an increase of 5% for the current period and 23% over last year. Looking ahead, we will continue to provide the highest quality of service and the most competitive products in our markets, while focusing on growing the business organically and looking for accretive acquisitions.

With those comments, I will now turn the call over to Steve for the financial review.

Steve Childers

Thanks Bob. Good morning to everyone. Overall, we are pleased we reported another solid quarter of financial results. Before I review the details of the quarter and provide updated 2010 guidance, let me first discuss a couple of material tax-related adjustments that occurred in the quarter.

First, our third quarter net income benefitted from a net $4.6 million non-cash reduction to our income tax provision associated with a net reduction in the liabilities for uncertain tax position. In that reduction and liabilities, with a combination of $5.4 million increase due to the expiration in the federal statute of limitations with respect to one item, and an $800,000 increase related to positions on our 2009 state income tax filings.

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