Wireless Trends Continue to Improve;
Board Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (March 1, 2017) – Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPOK), the global leader in critical communications, today announced operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2016. In addition, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.125 per share, payable on March 30, 2017 to stockholders of record on March 17, 2017.
2016 Fourth Quarter Results
In the 2016 fourth quarter, consolidated revenue was $44.2 million, compared to $47.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and $45.4 million in the third quarter of 2016. Software revenue totaled $17.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $18.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and $18.4 million in the third quarter of 2016. Wireless revenue totaled $26.5 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $28.7 million in the year-earlier quarter and $27.0 million in the prior quarter.
2016 fourth quarter net income was $3.0 million, or $0.15 per share, compared to net income of $68.7 million, or $3.28 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015. In the fourth quarter of 2015, net income included a non-cash income tax benefit of $64.2 million. The income tax benefit resulted from the reduction of the deferred income tax asset valuation allowance reflecting the Company’s fourth quarter analysis of its future operations. In accordance with applicable accounting standards that analysis determined that more of the Company’s deferred income tax assets were recoverable in future periods and that quarter’s income tax benefit reflects that adjustment. Excluding this benefit, fourth quarter 2015 net income would have totaled $4.6 million or $0.22 per share.
Fourth quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $7.9 million, or 17.8 percent of revenue, compared to $9.9 million, or 20.9 percent of revenue, in the year-earlier quarter, and $9.3 million, or 20.4 percent of revenue, in the third quarter of 2016.
2016 Full Year Results
For the full year 2016, consolidated revenue was $179.6 million, compared to $189.6 million in 2015. Wireless revenue was $109.6 million and software revenue was $70.0 million, compared to $119.0 million and $70.6 million, respectively, for 2015.
Net income for 2016 was $14.0 million, or $0.68 per share, compared to net income of $80.2 million, or $3.74 per share, for the previous year. In 2015, net income included a non-cash income tax benefit related to the reduction of the valuation allowance associated with the Company’s deferred income tax assets. In the fourth quarter the Company determined that more of the deferred income tax assets were recoverable in future periods and the 2015 income tax benefit reflects that adjustment. Excluding this income tax benefit, full year 2015 net income would have totaled $16.1 million, or $0.75 per share.
EBITDA for full year 2016 was $35.1 million, or 19.6 percent of revenue, compared to $39.1 million, or 20.6 percent of revenue, for 2015.
Key Operating Highlights
Other key results and highlights for the 2016 fourth quarter and full year included:
- Software bookings in the fourth quarter increased to $20.0 million, from $18.7 million in the prior quarter. Fourth quarter bookings included $9.3 million of operations bookings and $10.7 million of maintenance renewals. For 2016, bookings totaled $73.9 million, compared to $74.0 million in 2015. Maintenance bookings for 2016 totaled $40.3 million.
- Software backlog totaled $38.3 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $38.8 million at September 30, 2016, and $38.7 million at year-end 2015.
- Of the $17.7 million in software revenue for the fourth quarter, $8.1 million was operations revenue and $9.6 million was maintenance revenue, compared to $9.6 million and $9.0 million, respectively, of the $18.6 million in software revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015.
- The renewal rate for software maintenance in the fourth quarter continued to exceed 99 percent.
- The quarterly rate of paging unit erosion was 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 1.6 percent in the year-earlier quarter. The annual rate of unit erosion improved to 5.3 percent in 2016 versus 6.6 percent in the prior year. Net paging unit losses were 13,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016, versus 19,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015. Paging units in service at December 31, 2016 totaled 1,111,000, compared to 1,173,000 at the end of the prior year.
- The quarterly rate of wireless revenue erosion slowed to 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 versus 2.2 percent in the year-earlier quarter, while the annual rate of wireless revenue erosion in 2016 slowed to 7.9 percent versus 10.1 percent in 2015.
- Total paging ARPU (average revenue per unit) was $7.59 in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $7.79 in the year-earlier quarter and $7.63 in the prior quarter. For the year, ARPU totaled $7.67, compared to $7.83 in 2015.
- Consolidated operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $36.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $37.4 million in the year-earlier quarter. For 2016, operating expenses totaled $144.4 million, compared to $150.6 million in 2015.
- Capital expenses were $1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to $2.0 million in the year-earlier quarter. For 2016, capital expenses totaled $6.3 million, compared to $6.4 million in 2015.
- The number of full-time equivalent employees at December 31, 2016 totaled 587, compared to 600 at year-end 2015.
- Capital, including commitments, to be returned to stockholders for 2016 totaled $22.0 million. This came in the form of $10.3 million from the regular quarterly dividend, $6.5 million from share repurchases and $5.2 million from the special dividend that was declared in late December and paid in January 2017.
- The Company’s cash balance at December 31, 2016 grew to $125.8 million, from $111.3 million at December 31, 2015.
“We are encouraged with our performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 and for the full year”, said Vincent D. Kelly, chief executive officer. “We met or exceeded our expectations on key operating measures, including revenue levels, operating expense management, cash flow and subscriber retention. We achieved these results, as we continued investing in our future, enhancing and upgrading our operating platforms and sales infrastructure. We believe that these investments in our systems and people position us well for the future. Overall, we continued to operate profitably, enhance our product offerings, and further strengthen our balance sheet. Our ability to generate healthy cash flow levels allowed us to execute against our capital allocation strategy, make key strategic investments and enhance stockholder value.”
The Company posted solid results for its wireless products and services in the fourth quarter. Gross pager placements totaled 36,000 versus 31,000 in the year-earlier quarter, while gross disconnects of 49,000 improved from 50,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015. “As a result, annual net pager losses declined to a near historical low of 5.3 percent from the prior year-end and were down 1.2 percent for the fourth quarter, down sharply from prior-year results,” continued Kelly. “Overall, wireless sales efforts continued to focus primarily on our core market segment of Healthcare. It comprised 79.3 percent of our direct subscriber base, and continued to be our best performing market segment with the highest rate of gross placements and lowest rate of unit disconnects.”
Commenting on software results, Kelly said: “While we continued to make key strategic investments in our business, software revenue in 2016 totaled $70 million, consistent with prior year results.” Kelly attributed 2016 performance primarily to a continuing trend of a more than 99 percent renewal rate on software maintenance contracts. Maintenance revenue is a largely recurring revenue stream that provides Spok with a more stable revenue base.
Fourth quarter 2016 software bookings of $20.0 million were up more than 7 percent from the prior quarter. For the full year, bookings totaled $73.9 million, generally unchanged from prior-year levels. “Demand remained strong in the domestic markets for upgrades and installations of call center solutions, along with healthcare applications to increase patient safety, improve nursing workflows and enhance organizational efficiencies,” said Kelly. “While domestic markets performed well, we continue to see some sluggishness internationally in both EMEA and APAC.”
Continued Kelly, “We are focused on investments to grow our software solutions, while maintaining our valuable wireless revenue stream. In 2016 we took steps to strengthen our leadership team. During the year, we enhanced our employee base by hiring Don Soucy, an industry veteran, as executive vice president of sales; Dr. Nat’e Guyton, our chief nursing officer; and Dr. Andrew Mellin, M.D., our chief medical officer. We also added 31 product development specialists and staff. We started this year by announcing a nearly 45 percent planned increase in our Eden Prairie, Minn.-based development staff over the next two years.”
In 2016, Spok committed to return $21 million in capital to stockholders. During the year, the Company paid $10.3 million in regular quarterly dividends, repurchased 388,255 shares of common stock, totaling $6.5 million, and declared a special dividend of $5.2 million to stockholders in December, for a total of $22 million. “In 2016, we were proud to be able to exceed the commitment we made to our stockholders at the beginning of the year,” continued Kelly. “In 2017, we remain focused on our comprehensive capital allocation strategy. Like our peers, Spok has several options to deploy excess cash. We can pay dividends, buy back stock, pay down debt, acquire companies or invest back into our business. This year we are focused on the first and last choices, dividends and key strategic investments. We do not have any debt. And, we will remain open-minded to acquisition opportunities, that may arise, and share repurchases, as the markets permit. However, as we kick-off the year we are primarily focused on continuing our dividend policy and enhancing our research and development efforts for our solution set. We continue to believe that these investments in our solution will drive long-term sustainable organic growth for our stockholders.”
Kelly noted that in addition to the financial performance the Company was able to achieve in 2016, progress was made in several other areas, including product development, sales strategy and key strategic partnership agreements. “Spok continues to build an industry-leading reputation,” commented Kelly. “Last week, we presented the latest evolution of our suite of integrated healthcare communication and collaboration solutions, Spok Care Connect®, at the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition, in Orlando. Spok generated tremendous attention and high approval ratings at the conference. We intend to carry that momentum throughout 2017 in order to stimulate long-term growth. We remain committed to our core values of putting the customer first, creating solutions that matter, innovation and accountability. Combined with our strong team, solid financial platform and industry-leading products and services, Spok is well positioned to meet the challenges of 2017 and to generate future growth.”
Shawn E. Endsley, chief financial officer, said: “Revenue contribution from both software and wireless, combined with focused expense management, helped maintain solid operating cash flow, EBITDA and operating margins for the quarter, as we continued to invest in our business for long-term growth. We also strengthened our balance sheet, recording a cash balance of $125.8 million at December 31, 2016 and continued to operate as a debt-free company at year end.”
Commenting on the Company’s previously provided financial guidance for 2016, Endsley noted: “We are pleased that 2016 results were consistent with the guidance we had provided. For the year, total revenue of $179.6 million was within our guidance range of $174 million to $192 million, operating expenses of $144.4 million were better than our guidance range of $153 million to $159 million, and capital expenses of $6.3 million were at the low-end of our guidance range of $6.0 million to $8.0 million.” With regard to financial guidance for 2017, Endsley said the Company expects total revenue to range from $161 million to $177 million, operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) to range from $153 million to $159 million, and capital expenses to range from $8 million to $12 million.
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2016 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Call and Replay:
Spok plans to host a conference call for investors to discuss its 2016 fourth quarter and full year results at 10:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Dial-in numbers for the call are 913-981-5507 or 888-599-4883. The pass code for the call is 9242683. A replay of the call will be available from 1:00 p.m. ET on March 2, 2017 until 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 16, 2017. To listen to the replay, please register at http://tinyurl.com/spokQ4earningsreplay. Please enter the registration information, and you will be given access to the replay.
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