Iridium Sets Several Full-Year Growth Records in 2011

[Satellite TODAY Insider 03-07-12] Iridium Communications generated double-digit growth in net income, revenue, subscriber additions and operational EBITDA (OEBITDA) in its 2011 full fiscal year, according to the company’s latest financial results issued March 6.

   The MSS operator’s 2011 full-year net income, revenue and OEBITDA was $39.7 million, $384.3 million and $190.4 million, respectively, compared with $22.7 million, $348.2 million and $158.9 million, respectively, reported during the full-year 2010 fiscal period. The company’s OEBITDA generated a year-over-year growth of 20 percent and a margin of 49 percent.
   Iridium’s full-year capital expenditures totaled $359.4 million, of which $119.1 million was accrued in the fourth quarter related to spending for its upgraded Iridium NEXT ground network infrastructure at its commercial gateway. The company ended the 2011 fourth quarter with a cash and cash equivalents balance of $136.4 million and gross debt of $417.1 million. Iridium’s net debt at the end of the year was $253.8 million.           
   The MSS operator also generated considerable year-over-year gains in its subscriber base. Iridium had 307,000 voice subscribers at the end of 2011, compared with 272,000 at the end of 2010 — a 13 percent increase. M2M data subscribers jumped 50 percent to 168,000 in 2011. The company’s total government voice and M2M data subscribers reached 48,000 at the end of 2011 after expanding 12 percent, with Iridium’s M2M data customer base generating 57 percent growth on its own.
   Iridium now maintains a total billable subscriber base of 523,000 customers — a 22 percent jump from its position at the end of last year.
   Iridium CEO Matt Desch, who was awarded Via Satellite’s 2011 Satellite Executive of the Year award in February, said his company has reached important milestones for subscriber, service revenue and cash flow expansion. “2012 is shaping up to be another year of growth as we expect to cross the $200 million OEBITDA threshold on our way to launching Iridium NEXT,” Desch said in a March 6 conference call. “We are obsessive innovators, and we’ll continue to expand and improve our service portfolio in 2012 and beyond. With the recent launch of Iridium Pilot, our second-generation maritime broadband platform, we’re bringing enhanced voice and broadband data capabilities to our customers all over the world at a low cost.”            
   Desch added that the company plans to deliver a new M2M device in the next few months that is 70 percent smaller in size than its predecessor.
   The MSS operator also said it has completed the preliminary design review for Iridium NEXT and is still on track to begin deploying the new constellation service in early 2015. “We expect to announce the details of our primary hosted payload mission in the second quarter of 2012,” said Desch. “We believe the most likely opportunity is the formation of a global aviation monitoring business, which would deploy a payload that monitors aircraft all over the world and then supplies that information in near real-time to air navigation service providers.”

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