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GCI REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER 2014 FINANCIAL RESULTS

GCI REPORTS FOURTH QUARTER 2014 FINANCIAL RESULTS

Consolidated Revenue of $229 Million and $910 million for the Year

Adjusted EBITDA of $71 million and $323 million for the year

March 4, 2015, Anchorage, Alaska - General Communication, Inc. ("GCI") (NASDAQ: GNCMA) today reported record performance for 2014, with consolidated revenues for 2014 of $910 million, adjusted EBITDA of $323 million, and net income of $8 million or $0.18 per share.  Strong performance in the quarter boosted revenues above guidance and brought adjusted EBITDA in at the high end of the previously increased guidance.

For the fourth quarter of 2014, consolidated revenues and adjusted EBITDA were $229 million and $71 million, respectively, with revenues and adjusted EBITDA growing five and four percent over the same period of 2013, respectively. This growth was driven, in part, by increases in subscribers and average revenue per user (ARPU) for both wireless and high speed data services.

Sequential quarter-over-quarter revenues and EBITDA declined, consistent with seasonal expectations of decreased wireless roaming activity, higher SG&A expenses and a decrease in  political advertising revenue during the fourth quarter.

Core cash capital expenditures for the year totaled approximately $164 million, which included $47 million on wireless network and infrastructure projects and $90 million on other network and infrastructure projects. This is slightly less than the previously provided guidance of $170 million.

"2014 was a year of strong growth and continued investment for GCI," said Ron Duncan, GCI's president and chief executive officer. "We had substantial increases in both subscribers and ARPU for the wireless and the high-speed data businesses. We also made material investments in our infrastructure, positioning ourselves for the future. We now have the fastest LTE network and the broadest wireless coverage in Alaska, along with an unsurpassed wired high-speed data network for consumer and business customers. Going into 2015 our challenge will be to continue the growth in all of our businesses while integrating the AWN customers into a single, comprehensive wireless network."

Operating Statistical Highlights

  4Q14 4Q13 3Q14
Wireless non-Lifeline Subscribers (GCI) 124,600 112,200 121,300
Wireless ARPU (GCI) $50.16 $49.38 $50.87
Cable Modem Subscribers 133,200 129,300 131,200
Data ARPU $83.01 $74.65 $80.20

GCI wireless subscribers grew substantially year-over-year and sequentially, while wireless ARPU has remained stable. Cable modem subscribers grew three percent year-over-year, with the "March to a Gig" and "re:D" programs driving growth in both subscribers and ARPU.

Operating and Financial Highlights

Both Wireless and Wireline segment results are materially affected by The Alaska Wireless Network ("AWN") transaction, which was effective July 23, 2013. Year-over-year comparisons should take this into account. 

Wireless:

The Wireless segment, which includes wholesale wireless services to GCI and, prior to February 2, 2015, to Alaska Communications, posted revenues of $62 million for the quarter, representing a slight decline over the fourth quarter of 2013 and declined 19 percent over the third quarter of 2014.

The Wireless revenue detail is as follows:

($ millions) 4Q14 4Q13 3Q14
Wholesale wireless 25 24 25
Roaming and Backhaul 23 25 38
USF Support 14 13 13
Total Wireless Revenue 62 62 76


The sequential quarter-over-quarter decline in revenues is due to the seasonal nature of roaming activity, which is highest during the second and third quarters. However, GCI gained 3,300 non-Lifeline customers in the fourth quarter, for a total gain in the year of 12,400

As noted in previous quarters, under the AWN operating agreement, each operating partner is entitled to receive certain reimbursements for customer equipment, commonly known as "handset subsidies," according to a schedule for qualified devices. GCI elected not to seek any handset subsidies beginning in the third quarter of 2013, and reversed the preliminary subsidies booked. This decision was made due to internal system limitations on tracking the subsidies with the level of precision required. GCI resumed seeking handset subsidies in the second quarter of 2014. There was no net financial impact on the consolidated results, but rather a shift of EBITDA between segments. To best understand the segment results, the reported results must be normalized for this.

Wireless adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $33 million. Normalizing the reported results for the handset subsidy, the results would be instead:

($millions) 4Q14 4Q13 3Q14
Wireless Reported Adjusted EBITDA 33 43 47
Wireless Reported Subsidy to GCI Wireline 7 0 6
Wireless Adjusted EBITDA without Subsidy 40 43 53
Normalized Subsidy 7 9 6
Wireless Pro Forma Adjusted EBITDA 33 34 47
Wireless Pro Forma Adj. EBITDA Margin 53% 55% 62%

Thus, on a normalized basis, the Wireless adjusted EBITDA declined slightly on a year-over-year basis. Sequentially, adjusted EBITDA was down 30 percent, which is consistent with the prior year.

Recent service accomplishments and improvements in Wireless have included:

  • A recent independent test of wireless data network service in Juneau showed that the company is outperforming competitors in several key areas, including 4G LTE download speeds.
  • The expansion of 3G wireless data service to over a dozen rural communities, including Bethel, Kotzebue, and Nome.

Wireline:

The Wireline segment posted revenues of $167 million, a seven percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2013 and a two percent increase over the prior quarter. Adjusted EBITDA was reported at $38 million. Normalizing the reported results for the handset subsidy issue mentioned above, the results would be:

($millions) 4Q14 4Q13 3Q14
Wireline Reported Adjusted EBITDA 38 25 46
Wireline Reported Subsidy to GCI Wireline 7 0 6
Wireline Adjusted EBITDA without Subsidy 31 25 40
Normalized Subsidy 7 9 6
Wireline Pro Forma Adjusted EBITDA 38 34 46
Wireline Pro Forma Adj. EBITDA Margin 23% 22% 28%

Normalized adjusted EBITDA increased 12 percent on a year-over-year basis and decreased 17 percent on a sequential basis. The quarter-over-quarter decrease in EBITDA was consistent with seasonal expectations and driven by elevated SG&A and lower political advertising revenues experienced during the fourth quarter

Wireline - Consumer:

Consumer revenues were $76 million for the quarter, a year-over-year increase of ten percent, and a five percent increase on a sequential basis.

Of particular note has been the consistently strong growth of Consumer high speed data products, which continue to grow revenues year-over-year at a double digit rate, including growth in both high speed data subscribers and ARPU. This revenue growth was driven in part by the continued adoption of GCI's industry-leading high speed data product "re:D". Consumer wireless also showed consistent and strong growth.

Recent product and service announcements in Consumer have included:

  • The launch of the "No Worries" Broadband Internet plan, which provides customers the option to manage monthly bills with no surprises.
  • Announcement that 1-gigabit high speed data service is being planned for Fairbanks and Juneau, and that 250 Mbps service has been expanded to seven markets within Alaska.
  • The expansion of GCI TV powered by TiVo in Barrow, Bethel, Kotzebue and Nome.
  • The UpgradeNow and "bring your own device" programs have shifted handsets-financed versus subsidized from less than 20 percent to over 50 percent in the last two months.
  • Wireless shared data plans have been widely accepted, and, with customer retention tools, have brought wireless postpaid churn to under two percent for the fourth quarter.

Wireline - Business Services:

Business Services revenues, which includes broadcast and cable advertising revenues, were $58 million for the quarter, representing four percent growth year-over-year and a two percent decline sequentially over the prior quarter.

 The video products showed particular strength year-over-year due to the inclusion of Denali Media and the impact of political advertising on cable and Denali Media.

The Business Services Data products can be further detailed as follows:

($millions) 4Q14 4Q13 3Q14
Data Transport and Storage 26 24 25
Professional Services 12 12 12
Total Data Revenue 38 36 37

Although Professional Services for oil and gas were stable during the fourth quarter, low oil prices continue to put pressure on this sector.

Wireline - Managed Broadband:

Managed Broadband revenues were $32 million for the quarter, representing seven percent growth year-over-year and one percent growth sequentially. This growth derives from the continued success of the TERRA project in serving the rural communities of western Alaska. Within the past quarter, the TERRA project has been extended north as far as Kotzebue, and the TERRA-Yukon system has been extended to Galena from the east.

Significant Events

On December 4, 2014, GCI announced that it would be purchasing the wireless subscriber base of Alaska Communications (ACS), as well as purchasing ACS' remaining one third interest in AWN, our wholesale wireless joint venture. This transaction closed on February 2, 2015. GCI now has sole ownership of the largest wireless network in Alaska.

As of September 30, 2014 ACS reported approximately 109,000 wireless subscribers. Due to a number of factors including subsequent subscriber losses, differences in methods of counting subscribers and exclusion of internal subscribers from the transaction, the actual number of customers in good standing we acquired on February 2, 2015 was approximately 20 percent lower, or about 87,000.  These numbers are preliminary, and will be finalized in the first quarter 2015 financial release. The impact of these lower number of acquired subscribers is expected to be minimal due to a combination of low ARPU, reduced phone subsidy requirements and an estimated $4.4 million in purchase price reductions related to the subscriber attrition.

Also on February 2, 2015, GCI closed on two previously announced financings: a $275 million Term Loan B financing and a $75 million unsecured note. The Term Loan B financing has a seven year term, and is priced at LIBOR plus 375 basis points, with a one percent LIBOR floor. The unsecured note, with Searchlight Capital Partners, has an eight year term and bears a 7.5 percent annual coupon. Attached to this note are stock appreciation rights.

Guidance

GCI today announced the following guidance for 2015 financial performance:

  • Revenues will be in the range of $920 - 970 million.
  • Adjusted EBITDA will be in the range of $310 - 335 million, which excludes one time costs of approximately $30 million for the transition of ACS wireless customers to GCI.
  • Core cash capital expenditures will be approximately $170 million, of which approximately $45 million will be on wireless network projects, and approximately $85 million will be on other network and infrastructure projects.

Conference Call

The Company will hold a conference call to discuss the financial results on Thursday, March 5th, at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern). To access the call, call the conference operator between 1:50-2:00 p.m. (Eastern) at 888-970-4173 (International callers should dial +1-517-308-9060) and identify your call as "GCI".

In addition to dial-up access, GCI will make available net conferencing. To access the call via net conference, log on to gci.com and follow the instructions.

A replay of the call will be available for 72-hours by dialing 888-296-6945, access code 7461 (International callers should dial +1-402-998-0535).

Forward-Looking Statement Disclosure

The foregoing contains forward-looking statements regarding GCI's expected results that are based on management's expectations as well as on a number of assumptions concerning future events. Actual results might differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements due to uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside GCI's control. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained in GCI's cautionary statement sections of Forms 10-K and 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About GCI

GCI is the largest Alaska-based and -operated, integrated telecommunications provider, offering wireless, voice, data, and video services statewide. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com.


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