Uniti Group Inc. Provides 2021 Outlook and Reports Preliminary Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Results
March 01, 2021 at 16:05 PM EST
Successfully Refinanced Revolving Credit Facility
Issued $1.11 Billion of Senior Unsecured Notes; Refinancing Existing Debt at Lower Cost
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., March 01, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Uniti Group Inc. (“Uniti” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: UNIT) today announced its preliminary results for the fourth quarter and full year 2020.
“Our fiber and leasing businesses performed exceptionally well last year and are well positioned going into 2021. Strong bookings and install activity at Uniti Fiber reflect the robust demand we continue to see for our wireless offerings, driven by network densification efforts and the broader rollout of 5G services within our markets. We continue to see increased demand for our non-wireless service offerings and make significant progress in leasing-up our major anchor wireless builds. With a national network of 123,000 route miles of valuable fiber, we are in the unique position to drive additional lease up for years to come,” commented Kenny Gunderman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Gunderman continued, “We expect to see solid growth across all of our businesses this year, driven by high margin, recurring lease-up across our Uniti Leasing and Uniti Fiber networks. Through the recent refinancing of our revolving credit facility and senior unsecured notes refinancing, we have substantially improved Uniti’s financial profile, while providing greater flexibility in our ability to pursue other strategic initiatives.”
PRELIMINARY QUARTERLY RESULTS
Consolidated revenues for the fourth quarter of 2020 are expected to be $275.3 million. Net loss and Adjusted EBITDA are expected to be $47.7 million and $215.7 million, respectively, for the same period. Adjusted Funds From Operations (“AFFO”) attributable to common shareholders is expected to be $106.4 million, or $0.42 per diluted common share.
Uniti Fiber is expected to contribute $81.4 million of revenues and $30.8 million of Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2020, achieving estimated Adjusted EBITDA margins of approximately 38%. Uniti Fiber’s net success-based capital expenditures during the quarter were $41.2 million, and maintenance capital expenditures were $2.2 million.
Uniti Leasing is expected to contribute revenues of $193.9 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $191.5 million for the fourth quarter. During the quarter, Uniti Leasing deployed $56.3 million towards growth capital investment initiatives.
PRELIMINARY FULL YEAR RESULTS
Consolidated revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 are expected to be $1.1 billion. Net loss and Adjusted EBITDA are estimated to be $718.8 million and $818.8 million, respectively, for the same period. Net loss attributable to common shares is expected to be $707.4 million for the year, and includes a $71.0 million goodwill impairment charge in the fourth quarter related to our Uniti Fiber segment and $63.9 million of transaction related and other costs. Adjusted Funds From Operations (“AFFO”) attributable to common shareholders is estimated at $389.5 million, or $1.72 per diluted common share.
Uniti Fiber is expected to contribute $314.4 million of revenues and $112.3 million of Adjusted EBITDA for the year ended December 31, 2020, achieving estimated Adjusted EBITDA margins of approximately 36%. Uniti Fiber’s net success-based capital expenditures during the year were $146.8 million, and maintenance capital expenditures were $7.1 million.
Uniti Leasing is expected to have revenues of $745.9 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $737.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, while deploying $95.9 million towards growth capital investment initiatives.
The preliminary quarterly and full year information above reflects the Company’s preliminary estimates and is based on the information available as of the date hereof. The Company is working to complete its financial results, and its independent auditors are working to complete their audit work. The Company expects to file its Form 10-K no later than March 8, 2021. Actual results may differ from these estimates.
On December 10, 2020, Uniti entered into an amendment to our credit agreement that upsized commitments from new and existing lenders under our senior revolving credit facility to $500 million. Upon receipt of routine regulatory approvals, the new and extended commitments will bear interest at a rate of LIBOR plus 400 basis points based on our current secured leverage ratio, and the maturity date will be extended to December 10, 2024. Certain limitations that were included in our previous amendments to our credit agreement have been modified or removed, such as restrictions relating to debt incurrence, restricted payments, and permitted investments. Certain non-extending lender commitments of $60.5 million will mature on April 24, 2022 and will continue to bear interest at rates previously in effect. Prior to the expiration of these commitments, the aggregate size of the senior revolving credit facility will be $560.5 million from all lenders.
On February 2, 2021, the Company closed on the issuance of $1.11 billion of Senior Unsecured Notes due February 2029 (“2029 Notes”). The 2029 Notes bear interest at 6.50% and were issued at par. The proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, were used to purchase, through a tender offer, approximately $1.05 billion or 95% of our outstanding 8.25% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2023 (“2023 Notes”). On February 16, 2021, the Company issued a notice to redeem all remaining outstanding 2023 Notes at par, plus any accrued and unpaid interest, on April 15, 2021.
At year-end, the Company had approximately $527.5 million of unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, and undrawn borrowing availability under its revolving credit agreement. The Company’s leverage ratio at year-end is estimated to be 5.72x based on Net Debt to Annualized Adjusted EBITDA.
On February 25, 2021, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per common share, payable on April 16, 2021 to stockholders of record on April 1, 2021.
FULL YEAR 2021 OUTLOOK
Our 2021 outlook includes the impact of the previously announced strategic OpCo-PropCo transaction with Everstream Solutions, LLC, including the partial sale of our Northeast operations and certain dark fiber IRU contracts acquired as part of the Windstream settlement, that is expected to close in early second quarter of this year (the “Everstream Transaction”), and the estimated impact of our 6.5% unsecured notes offering and related tender offer and redemption. Our outlook excludes future acquisitions, capital market transactions, and future transaction related and other costs not mentioned herein. Actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements.
The Company’s consolidated outlook for 2021 is as follows (in millions):
Uniti will hold a conference call today to discuss this earnings release at 4:15 PM Eastern Time (3:15 PM Central Time). The dial-in number for the conference call is (844) 513-7153 (or (508) 637-5603 for international callers) and the conference ID is 7875254. The conference call will be webcast live and can be accessed on the Company’s website at www.uniti.com. A replay of the call will be available on the Company’s website or by telephone beginning today at approximately 8:00 PM Eastern Time. To access the telephone replay, which will be available for 14 days, please dial (855) 859-2056 and enter the conference ID number 7875254.
Uniti, an internally managed real estate investment trust, is engaged in the acquisition and construction of mission critical communications infrastructure, and is a leading provider of wireless infrastructure solutions for the communications industry. As of December 31, 2020, Uniti owns over 123,000 fiber route miles, approximately 6.9 million fiber strand miles, and other communications real estate throughout the United States. Additional information about Uniti can be found on its website at www.uniti.com.
Certain statements in this press release and today’s conference call may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended from time to time. Those forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical statements of fact, including, without limitation, our 2021 financial outlook, our business strategies, growth prospects, industry trends, sales opportunities, and operating and financial performance.
Words such as "anticipate(s)," "expect(s)," "intend(s)," “estimate(s),” “foresee(s),” "plan(s)," "believe(s)," "may," "will," "would," "could," "should," "seek(s)" and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could lead to actual results differing materially from those projected, forecasted or expected. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained. Factors which could materially alter our expectations include, but are not limited to, the future prospects of Windstream, our largest customer; changes in the accounting treatment of our settlement with Windstream; the ability and willingness of our customers to meet and/or perform their obligations under any contractual arrangements entered into with us, including master lease arrangements; the ability of our customers to comply with laws, rules and regulations in the operation of the assets we lease to them; the ability and willingness of our customers to renew their leases with us upon their expiration, and the ability to reposition our properties on the same or better terms in the event of nonrenewal or in the event we replace an existing tenant; the adverse impact of litigation affecting us or our customers; our ability to renew, extend or obtain contracts with significant customers (including customers of the businesses we acquire); the availability of and our ability to identify suitable acquisition opportunities and our ability to acquire and lease the respective properties on favorable terms; the risk that we fail to fully realize the potential benefits of acquisitions or have difficulty integrating acquired companies; our ability to generate sufficient cash flows to service our outstanding indebtedness and fund our capital funding commitments; our ability to access debt and equity capital markets (including to fund required payments pursuant to our settlement with Windstream); adverse impacts of changes to our business, economic trends or key assumptions regarding our estimates of fair value, including potential impacts of recent developments surrounding Windstream that could result in an impairment charge in the future, which could have a significant impact to our reported earnings; the impact on our business or the business of our customers as a result of credit rating downgrades and fluctuating interest rates; our ability to retain our key management personnel; our ability to qualify or maintain our status as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”); changes in the U.S. tax law and other state, federal or local laws, whether or not specific to REITs; covenants in our debt agreements that may limit our operational flexibility; our expectations regarding the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our results of operations and financial condition; other risks inherent in the communications industry and in the ownership of communications distribution systems, including potential liability relating to environmental matters and illiquidity of real estate investments; and additional factors described in our reports filed with the SEC.
Uniti expressly disclaims any obligation to release publicly any updates or revisions to any of the forward-looking statements set forth in this press release and today’s conference call to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
This release and today’s conference call contain certain supplemental measures of performance that are not required by, or presented in accordance with, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). Such measures should not be considered as alternatives to GAAP. Further information with respect to and reconciliations of such measures to the nearest GAAP measure can be found herein.
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Components of Interest Expense (1)
NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
We refer to EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, Funds From Operations (“FFO”) as defined by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“NAREIT”) and Adjusted Funds From Operations (“AFFO”) in our analysis of our results of operations, which are not required by, or presented in accordance with, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). While we believe that net income, as defined by GAAP, is the most appropriate earnings measure, we also believe that EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, FFO and AFFO are important non-GAAP supplemental measures of operating performance for a REIT.
We define “EBITDA” as net income, as defined by GAAP, before interest expense, provision for income taxes and depreciation and amortization. We define “Adjusted EBITDA” as EBITDA before stock-based compensation expense and the impact, which may be recurring in nature, of transaction and integration related costs, costs associated with Windstream’s bankruptcy, costs associated with litigation claims made against us, and costs associated with the implementation of our new enterprise resource planning system, collectively “Transaction Related and Other Costs”, costs related to the settlement with Windstream, goodwill impairment charges, amortization of non-cash rights-of-use, the write off of unamortized deferred financing costs, costs incurred as a result of the early repayment of debt, including early tender premiums and costs associated with the termination of related hedging activities, gains or losses on dispositions, changes in the fair value of contingent consideration and financial instruments, and other similar or infrequent items. Adjusted EBITDA includes adjustments to reflect the Company’s share of Adjusted EBITDA from unconsolidated entities. We believe EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are important supplemental measures to net income because they provide additional information to evaluate our operating performance on an unleveraged basis. In addition, Adjusted EBITDA is calculated similar to defined terms in our material debt agreements used to determine compliance with specific financial covenants. Since EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are not measures calculated in accordance with GAAP, they should not be considered as alternatives to net income determined in accordance with GAAP.
Because the historical cost accounting convention used for real estate assets requires the recognition of depreciation expense except on land, such accounting presentation implies that the value of real estate assets diminishes predictably over time. However, since real estate values have historically risen or fallen with market and other conditions, presentations of operating results for a REIT that use historical cost accounting for depreciation could be less informative. Thus, NAREIT created FFO as a supplemental measure of operating performance for REITs that excludes historical cost depreciation and amortization, among other items, from net income, as defined by GAAP. FFO is defined by NAREIT as net income attributable to common shareholders computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding gains or losses from real estate dispositions, plus real estate depreciation and amortization and impairment charges, and includes adjustments to reflect the Company’s share of FFO from unconsolidated entities. We compute FFO in accordance with NAREIT’s definition.
The Company defines AFFO, as FFO excluding (i) Transaction Related and Other Costs; (ii) costs related to the litigation settlement with Windstream, and accretion on our settlement obligation as these items are not reflective of ongoing operating performance; (iii) goodwill impairment charges; (iv) certain non-cash revenues and expenses such as stock-based compensation expense, amortization of debt and equity discounts, amortization of deferred financing costs, depreciation and amortization of non-real estate assets, amortization of non-cash rights-of-use, straight line revenues, non-cash income taxes, and the amortization of other non-cash revenues to the extent that cash has not been received, such as revenue associated with the amortization of tenant capital improvements; and (v) the impact, which may be recurring in nature, of the write-off of unamortized deferred financing fees, additional costs incurred as a result of early repayment of debt, including costs associated with the termination of related hedging activities, taxes associated with tax basis cancellation of debt, gains or losses on dispositions, changes in the fair value of contingent consideration and financial instruments and similar or infrequent items less maintenance capital expenditures. AFFO includes adjustments to reflect the Company’s share of AFFO from unconsolidated entities. We believe that the use of FFO and AFFO, and their respective per share amounts, combined with the required GAAP presentations, improves the understanding of operating results of REITs among investors and analysts, and makes comparisons of operating results among such companies more meaningful. We consider FFO and AFFO to be useful measures for reviewing comparative operating performance. In particular, we believe AFFO, by excluding certain revenue and expense items, can help investors compare our operating performance between periods and to other REITs on a consistent basis without having to account for differences caused by unanticipated items and events, such as transaction and integration related costs. The Company uses FFO and AFFO, and their respective per share amounts, only as performance measures, and FFO and AFFO do not purport to be indicative of cash available to fund our future cash requirements. While FFO and AFFO are relevant and widely used measures of operating performance of REITs, they do not represent cash flows from operations or net income as defined by GAAP and should not be considered an alternative to those measures in evaluating our liquidity or operating performance.
Further, our computations of EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, FFO and AFFO may not be comparable to that reported by other REITs or companies that do not define FFO in accordance with the current NAREIT definition or that interpret the current NAREIT definition or define EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA and AFFO differently than we do.
INVESTOR AND MEDIA CONTACTS:
Mark A. Wallace, 501-850-0866
Bill DiTullio, 501-850-0872