Boston Omaha (BOC 3.62%) released first-quarter 2019 results on Friday after the market closed, showcasing an incredible acceleration in top-line growth fueled by both last year's billboard acquisitions and its recently expanded surety-insurance operations.

With shares down around 7.5% on Monday -- a move probably amplified by the broader market's decline today, given escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China -- here's a closer inspection of what drove Boston Omaha as it kicked off the new year.

Empty illuminated billboard on a city highway

Image source: Getty Images.

Boston Omaha results: The raw numbers


 Q1 2019

Q1 2018

Year-Over-Year Growth


$9.11 million

$2.82 million


GAAP net income (loss) attributable to common shareholders

($4.08 million)

($2.07 million)


GAAP earnings (loss) per share




Data source: Boston Omaha Q1 2019 SEC filing. 

What happened with Boston Omaha this quarter?

  • Book value per share was $14.15 as of March 31, down from $14.27 per share at the end of last quarter, but up 10.6% from the same point a year ago.
  • The change in revenue consisted of: 
    • 337.4% growth from net billboard rentals, to $6.78 million, driven by billboard business acquisitions made between last July and August, as well as improvements in rental and occupancy rates for existing billboards.
    • A 294.4% increase in premiums earned, to $1.88 million, driven by higher gross written premiums with Boston Omaha's United Casualty and Surety Insurance Company (UCS) now licensed to write surety in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Recall that UCS was only just admitted to write surety in California -- where parent General Indemnity Group writes more surety than anywhere else in the country -- in the fourth quarter of 2018.
    • A 53.6% decline in insurance commissions, to $0.355 million, as Boston Omaha's agents are now able to place more bond business through UCS, rather than through other carriers, thanks to its expanded licensed reach.
    • 206.8% growth from investments and other income, to $92,846, reflecting gains on certain UCS investments. 
  • Boston Omaha ended the quarter with $380.1 million in total assets, up from $332.2 million last quarter.
  • As of May 6, Link Media Outdoor operated roughly 2,900 billboards with 5,400 advertising faces -- or 5,900 counting digital face flips. 

What management had to say

Boston Omaha doesn't currently hold quarterly conference calls with investors, though the company has slated its 2019 annual shareholder meeting for June 8 in Boston.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't point investors toward Boston Omaha's 2018 annual letter to shareholders, released in March. In it, management quipped, "You're more likely to see the Patriots or Red Sox lose in the [Super Bowl] or World Series to a team from L.A. than to catch us making quarterly or annual earnings forecasts."

Rather, investors can rest assured Boston Omaha is continuing to keep its head down while maximizing cash generation, creating shareholder value, and setting the foundations for sustained, profitable growth for years to come. In the end, I think all signs in this quarterly report indicate that Boston Omaha continues to make steady progress toward those goals.