Why Iridium Communications Shares Slumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Iridium Communications (NASDAQ: IRDM  ) plunged 10% Friday after the company posted mixed quarterly earnings results and affirmed its previous near-term guidance but withdrew its "long-range outlook" because of uncertainty related to lower-than-expected commercial equipment sales and subscriber additions.

So what: Quarterly revenue came in at $100.6 million, which translated to net income of $16.6 million, or $0.19 per diluted share. For reference, analysts were looking for higher earnings of $0.22 per share on lower sales of $98.47 million.

Iridium also reaffirmed its previous near-term outlook, which called for total billable subscriber growth and service revenue growth of approximately 10% and 6%, respectively, with full-year 2013 operational EBITDA between $200 million to $205 million. In addition, Iridium now expects operational EBITDA to increase in 2014 from the current year.

However, Iridium also withdrew its longer-term outlook, which previously called for average service revenue growth of 8% to 10% per year between 2014 and 2015, operational EIBTDA margin between 55% and 60% in 2015, net leverage of roughly six times by the end of 2015, and a deleveraging rate of 0.5 and one times operating EBITDA per year beginning in 2016.

Now what: Iridium CFO Tom Fitzpatrick weighed in to explain, "While we withdrew certain elements of our long-range outlook today as we continue to evaluate the impact of lower commercial equipment sales and commercial subscriber additions on our operating plan, we remain confident in our future prospects. We compete in attractive and growing markets with high barriers to entry and have a strong competitive position across our business lines."

That's fair enough, but it's also hard to blame investors for taking a step back given today's new uncertainty regarding Iridium's long-term prospects. That said, shares are currently trading at rock-bottom prices at just above seven times last year's earnings and only 5.7 times next year's estimates. With so much pessimism priced in, patient long-term investors willing to take advantage of the pullback could be looking at a bargain.

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