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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
. Stephanie Comfort, Qwest Communications International Inc., SVP-IR
. Dick Notebaert, Qwest Communications International, Chairman, CEO
. Oren Shaffer, Qwest Communications International, Vice Chairman,
CFO . David Barden, Banc of America Securities, Analyst . Jeff Halpern, Sanford Bernstein, Analyst . John Hodulik, UBS, Analyst
. Jonathan Chaplin, JPMorgan, Analyst . Frank Louthan, Raymond James, Analyst . Blake Bath, Lehman Brothers, Analyst
Management reported revenues of $13.9b in 2005. 4Q05 revenue totaled $3.5b. 4Q05 adjusted EBITDA was $1.053b, after adjusting for $74m of realignment expense. The Co. continues to pursue its EBITDA margin goal in the mid-30% range, assuming modest revenue growth.
A. Key Data From Call 1. 2005 revenue = $13.9b. 2. 4Q05 revenue = $3.5b. 3. 2005 adjusted EBITDA = $4b. 4. 4Q05 adjusted EBITDA, after adjusting for $74m of realignment expense = $1.053b. 5. 4Q05 OpEx = $3.3b. 6. 2005 CapEx = $1.6b. 7. 4Q05 CapEx = $503m.
S1. Strategic Initiatives & Growth Drivers (D.N.) 1. Significant Highlights: 1. For full-year 2005, the Co. delivered its performance goals for: 1. Revenue. 2. EBITDA. 3. EBITDA margins. 4. Free cash flow. 2. The Co. achieved new highs in customer service levels across the board. 3. The progress and performance continue to demonstrate that Q's strategies are working. 1. Intends to carry this momentum into 2006. 4. In 4Q05, in addition to operating performance, the Co. significantly improved its financial flexibility with the successful completion of a tender offer that eliminated all of Q's high-coupon legacy debt. 1. It reduced interest expense and reached break-even EPS,
excluding special items. 2. As the Co. looks to the future, it continues to invest in growth and value for its constituents.
2. Key Accomplishments in Recent Years: 1. The Co. made significant progress over the last three years. 2. The Co. removed many obstacles, including: 1. Financial restatements. 2. Legal settlements.
3. Significant cost reduction that included elimination of unprofitable contracts. 4. Debt reduction. 3. Q's goal is to continue to do so over the next three years. 3. 2005 Highlights:
1. At $13.9b, revenue grew modestly, as higher value, higher-ARPU
growth products and improved bundle penetration offset slowing
retail access line losses. 1. This was the first revenue increase since 2001. 2. Reported the third consecutive qtr. of YoverY revenue improvement. 2. Customer demand and a clear value proposition for the portfolio of growth products, including:
1. Long-distance. 2. Broadband. 3. Advanced data products. 4. Voice-over Internet Protocol or VoIP. 5. Video.
6. Wireless. 3. These aforementioned products are driving volume, ARPU and bundle penetration. 4. The Co. now has the opportunity to achieve benchmark or better market penetration and avg. revenue per customer. 5. For 2005, in addition to strong metrics on the growth products, mass markets and business revenues grew, while wholesale, on the back of pricing initiatives, improved
profitability. 6. Adjusted EBITDA increased to $4b in 2005, with quarterly run rate at just over $1b and improving.
1. Adjusted EBITDA margin on the same basis improved to 29% for 2005 and approached 30% in 4Q05. 2. Near-term goal is an EBITDA margin in the low-30% range. 3. Longer-term goal is a very competitive mid-30% margin. 7. Q exceeded its goal for free cash flow in 2005 and generated more than $900m before one-time payments, with much of the increase driven by improved EBITDA margins. 8. With the success of the Co.'s recent $3b tender offer, it completed a major piece of its plan to transform Q's financial
flexibility. 1. Reduced net debt by over $11b from the peak in 2002 to $14.5b at year-end. 2. Significantly reduced interest expense. 3. Leverage ratio improved and credit ratings were upgraded.
9. The Co. continues to expect a $450-600m increase in free cash
flow in 2006 from both the interest savings and the benefit of operational improvements, with some potential for variability
due to balance sheet changes. 10. Q expanded its Board in 2005 with the addition of five independent Directors. 11. Based on the performance and prospects, the Co. was able to deliver a total return to shareholders of 27.3% in 2005. 4. Other Significant Highlights: 1. Successful financial transactions and the elimination of obstacles are certainly important. 1. There is much the Co. has accomplished in these areas. 2. The Co. recognized that long-term value creation is based on delivering sustainable, competitive growth in revenue, earnings and cash flow. 1. This is its ongoing focus. 3. The components of value creation for Q include: 1. Topline growth. 2. Continued cost reduction, including productivity improvements. 3. Improving EBITDA margins to competitive levels. 4. Reaching profitability and sustaining it. 5. Free cash flow growth, driven increasingly by operating performance. 5. Topline Growth: 1. The Co.'s strategy for revenue growth is to continue to drive higher penetration and ARPU on the growth products and to close the gap on the peer group benchmarks for these metrics, while it stabilizes access line losses. 1. This strategy requires selective and disciplined investment in both the terms of capital investment and marketing
support. 2. The Co. continued to carefully review and adjust its pricing as appropriate. 1. Making progress in achieving this strategy. 3. While the Co. continued to see a decline in access lines, the rate has stabilized and, in fact, improved vs. the peer group. 4. Q grew overall mass markets as far as the retail net connections for the year. 1. Continued to focus on this issue, expanding state-by-state through targeted advertising, feet on the street and other directed campaigns. 2. Can now offer customers the products and the bundles they want, the right pricing and the value proposition they need. 3. Continued to improve customer service. 6. Growth Products: 1. Growth products are increasing ARPU and market penetration. 2. Broadband penetration reached 11.4% in 4Q05, up from 7.6% at the end of  and vs. an industry avg. of …