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 Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) slumped on Wednesday after the company came up short of analyst estimates when it reported its first-quarter results. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the stock was down about 8% after falling as much as 10% at market open.
So what: Frontier reported quarterly revenue of $1.37 billion, up 19.1% year-over-year. This was $20 million shy of analyst estimates, and the growth was primarily the result of the acquisition of AT&T's wireline operations in Connecticut in late 2014. The company also added 17,100 net broadband subscribers during the quarter, on a base of about 2.4 million.
Frontier reported non-GAAP EPS of $0.02, half of what analysts were expecting and 50% lower than the number reported during the first quarter of 2014. On a GAAP basis, the company lost $0.05 per share, compared to a net income of $0.01 per share during the first quarter of 2014.
Frontier reaffirmed its previous guidance for free cash flow and capital expenditures for 2015. The company expects free cash flow to be between $785 million and $825 million for the full year, up significantly compared to 2014 but down slightly compared to 2013, with capital expenditures expected to be between $650 million and $700 million.
Now what: With most of Frontier's growth coming from an acquisition and earnings declining compared to the first quarter of last year, the market seems justified in punishing Frontier's stock. Earlier this year, Frontier announced another major acquisition, the $10.5 billion purchase of landline customers from Verizon, a move that will effectively double the size of the company.
How these big acquisitions ultimately work out remains to be seen. Despite a major acquisition in 2009 that vastly increased the size of the company, Frontier's free cash flow has barely changed. In fact, free cash flow in 2014 was the lowest it's been in five years. With Frontier unable to grow profits, the stock's sell-off today seems warranted.