Third quarter summary
- Revenue declined by 0.2% to SEK 1,777m for the Group driven by a 7.0% decline in Boxer revenue. The Com Hem Segment grew 1.9% with good growth in Com Hem Consumer of 3.7%, slightly offset by a 7.5% decline in Network Operator revenue caused by timing of low-margin fibre connection fee revenue.
- Operating profit (EBIT) of SEK 275m increased by 7.8% compared to SEK 255m in the previous year.
- EBITDA increased by a moderate 0.3% to SEK 749m explained by higher items affecting comparability mainly related to the merger with Tele2.
- Underlying EBITDA increased by 4.2% to SEK 795m for the Group, with Com Hem Segment increasing by 4.5% to SEK 706m.
- Cash flow from operating activities decreased by SEK 375m to SEK 493m due to temporarily negative change in working capital.
- Operating free cash flow increased by 17.3% to SEK 614m for the Group due to lower capex and growth in underlying EBITDA.
- Net result increased by 9.2% to SEK 150m.
- Earnings per share: SEK 0.85 (0.76).
- Com Hem Segment update:
- Unique consumer subscribers rose by 7,000 to record high 999,000.
- Continued growth in broadband, up 8,000 to record high 774,000 RGUs.
- Digital TV RGUs increased by 1,000 to 655,000.
- Consumer ARPU decreased to SEK 375 (SEK 378 in Q2 2018).
- Consumer churn reached record low of 12.4% down 0.4 percentage points compared to previous quarter.
- Boxer Segment update:
- Consumer churn declined to 16.4% (16.6% in Q2 2018).
- Consumer ARPU decreased to SEK 306 (SEK 309 in Q2 2018).
- 5,000 broadband RGUs were added in the quarter.
- Decline in unique consumers of -6,000 compared to –7,000 in Q2 2018.
- Decline in RGUs of -4,000 compared to -6,000 in Q2 2018.
- Boxer’s fibre footprint is now at 1,270,000 addressable households including roughly 170,000 which do not overlap with the Com Hem Segment.
- Group footprint now at ~3 million addressable households reaching our target two years ahead of plan.
- Tele2 merger update: During the quarter, we received approval from our shareholders and in beginning of October the European Commission gave clearance to proceed with the merger which is expected to be finalised on November 5. The last day of trading for the Com Hem share will be November 1.
Comment from Anders Nilsson, CEO, Com Hem Group:
Final quarter for Com Hem – tripled shareholder value since listing
We saw improvements in operational KPIs as churn reached a record low in the Com Hem Segment and broadband sales picked up in Boxer. A milestone was passed in broadband with the commercial launch of 1.2 Gbit/s speeds, extending our speed leadership. The TV Hub is getting traction with high-end STB penetration now at 42% of the Com Hem Segment DTV base. The Boxer synergies are now fully realized following completion of the system integration in Q2.
In the quarter, we saw continued growth in Com Hem Segment Consumer revenue, up 3.7% on the back of an increase in unique customers and higher ARPU compared to Q3 2017. However, given the slowdown in the fibre buildout in Sweden, the revenue from fibre connection fees declined and resulted in a decline of 7.5% in the network operator business which took total Com Hem Segment revenue growth to 1.9% in the quarter. Since the fibre connection revenue comes at a very low margin, this did not affect underlying EBITDA which grew by 4.5% in the Com Hem Segment. The Group revenue decline of 0.2% was driven by a 7.0% decline in the Boxer Segment. However, given the margin expansion in both segments, underlying EBITDA grew by 4.2% for the Group which is in-line with guidance, and operating free cash flow grew by 17.3% due to lower capex in the quarter.
Reduced churn and improving volumes in the Com Hem Segment
Consumer churn reached a record low level of 12.4% in the Com Hem Segment in the quarter. Declining churn and a growing customer base after five consecutive years of annual price adjustments confirms to us that the more-for-more strategy works. The customer base grew by 7,000 subscribers, broadband RGUs increased by 8,000, digital TV RGUs increased by 1,000, while the fixed telephony RGUs declined by 10,000 due to fixed telephony price adjustments during the quarter. The net intake of unique subscribers improved slightly in the quarter after a few quarters of lower net adds than previous years, which results in slightly lower consumer revenue growth despite higher year-on-year consumer ARPU, up SEK 3 year-on-year to SEK 375.
Tripled shareholder value since listing
Since this is the last quarter for Com Hem as a standalone entity before we merge with Tele2, I would like to thank everyone who has followed Com Hem over the last few years. Since the IPO, our strategy has been to focus on several growth drivers to increase value for our shareholders. I would like to take this opportunity to look at what we have achieved. Since Q2 2014, the Com Hem Segment unique customer base has grown by 18% to almost 1 million customers and consumer churn has declined by 4 percentage points. Broadband RGUs have increased by 39% organically and the average speed in the customer base has increased by 130%. Com Hem Segment DTV RGUs have grown by 9% and penetration of high-end set top boxes has increased from 17% to 42%. The Group has increased its footprint by 50% by adding 1 million addressable households in the SDU market and Boxer has been fully integrated into Com Hem. Because of these operational achievements we have been able to almost triple the shareholder value and deliver a total shareholder return of 197% between the IPO and the 2018 EGM. During the same period, the OMX Stockholm 30 index had a return of 39% and the Stoxx 600 Europe Telecom index had a return of -3%. We believe that no other investment in any publicly traded European telecom company during this period would have offered a greater return.
The beginning of a new era
During the quarter, we received approval from our shareholders and in beginning of October the European competition authorities gave clearance to proceed with the merger which is expected to be finalized on November 5. We are very excited to enter the next chapter in the Com Hem story as part of Tele2 and we hope that you will join us for the next leg of the journey. In addition to continuing efforts to increase customer satisfaction and create sustainable growth we will now start working on the integration of the two businesses to ensure that our combined talent, assets, products and brands reach their full potential. Our focus will now be to make sure that the combined company serves the best interest of our customers, employees, shareholders and society as a whole.
Notes to the editors:
You will find the complete report with tables in the attached PDF or at: http://www.comhemgroup.se/en/investors/financial-reports-presentations/
Conference call on October 18
Management will host a conference call for the financial community at 11:00 am CET today. The presentation will be held in English and the presentation material can be accessed on www.comhemgroup.com. An on-demand version is also available after the presentation.
Link to webcast:
Conference call dial-in numbers:
Sweden: +46 (0)8519 99 355
UK: +44 (0)203 1940 550
USA: +1 855 269 2605
To ensure that you are connected to the conference call, please dial in 10 minutes ahead of the conference call to register your attendance.
For queries, please contact:
Marcus Lindberg, Head of Investor Relations
Tel: +46(0)734 39 25 40
Fredrik Hallstan, Head of PR
Tel: +46(0)709 48 52 72
This information is information that Com Hem Holding AB (publ) is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation and the Securities Markets Act. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact persons set out above, at 07:30 CET on October 18, 2018.
About Com Hem Group
Com Hem Group supplies broadband, TV, play and telephony services to Swedish households and companies under its two brands Com Hem and Boxer. The Group also includes the communication operator iTUX Communication AB which provides open fibre to service providers. We bring our 1.45 million customers a large range of digital-TV channels and play services via set top boxes as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones. Our powerful and future-proofed network with speeds up to 1.2 Gbit/s, covers 60% of the country’s households, making the Com Hem Group an important driver of creating a digital Sweden. Com Hem Group was founded in 1983 and has approximately 1,100 employees. Com Hem Group is headquartered in Stockholm and in 2017, Group sales totalled SEK 7,136 million. Since 2014 the Com Hem share is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm.