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Iridium Reports Revenue, Subscription Growth in ‘Transition’ Year 2019

By Rachel Jewett | February 25, 2020
Iridium SNOC Next

Iridium’s Satellite Network Operating Center (SNOC). Photo: Iridium

Iridium released its financial results for the Fourth Quarter (Q4) of 2019 on Tuesday, reporting a Q4 net loss of $107.9 million, but also Q4 total revenue of $138.9 million, a 5% increase from the same time period in 2018. Service revenue, which is primarily recurring revenue from Iridium’s subscriber base, was $113.6 million, or 82% of the total Q4 revenue. 

The company ended the quarter with 1.3 million total billable subscribers, compared to roughly 1.1 million in Q4 2018. Total billable subscribers grew 16% year-over-year, which Iridium attributed to growth in commercial Internet of Things (IoT) and government business.

The net loss of $107.9 million in Q4 compares to a net loss of $7.6 million in Q4 2018. Iridium said the loss was the result of debt extinguishment costs associated with Iridium’s refinancing, and higher interest expense and depreciation and amortization expense related to completing the Iridium NEXT constellation. 

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said that both the completion of the NEXT constellation and commencement of Iridium Certus broadband service in 2019 are milestones that will move the company from capital spending to cash flow. In an earnings call on Tuesday, Desch called the results “not bad” for a transition year. 

“After lots of effort in investment, we finally reached what I’ve been calling financial maturity,” Desch said. “What I mean by this is that Iridium has become self-sustaining, especially as we look to the future. In contrast, throughout Iridium’s 30-year history, we’ve been beholden to the financial markets to supply debt and equity needed to build and upgrade our network.”