Advanced Television

Analysts: Iridium is on a roll

April 27, 2022

Iridium Communications operates 66 active satellites and connects its customers with global voice and data from its hand-held satellite phones and terminals. It has moved from a quarterly loss to its fourth straight quarter of double digit growth and a profit and reported an extremely buoyant forward guidance with subscribers growing to 1.78 million (from 1.51 million a year ago).

A report on Iridium from Quilty Analytics suggests that 2022 could be a “breakout year” for Iridium helped by record subscriber growth.

“Iridium continued to see strong demand in the first quarter. I’m continually amazed at the innovative ways in which our technology and distribution partners utilise our unique satellite network to drive growth and serve their respective markets,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium.

The company’s 2022 guidance suggests total service revenue growth between 5 and 7 per cent for full-year 2022. Total service revenue for 2021 was $492 million.

Iridium’s key headlines:

• Commercial service revenues grew ~12 per cent y/y. Fourth straight quarter of double-digit growth.

• Iridium set a new record of 57,000 net adds in Q1, including 50,000 IoT subs. Total subs up 20 per cent y/y.

• Equipment sales grew 41 per cent to a new quarterly record despite ongoing chip shortages. Full-year revenues now expected to be up materially.

• Iridium reported a surge in demand related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including strong demand for push-to-talk devices and higher airtime usage.

• IoT ARPUs declined ~7 per cent in Q1, reflecting a mix shift toward lower-ARPU consumers.

• Iridium added 8,000 voice subs and revenues grew at the fastest rate since Q1 2014 (excluding a 2018 price increase), up 8 per cent.

• Broadband revenues grew 22 per cent, reflecting 13 per cent more subs and a 9 percent lift in ARPUs due to Certus.

• Iridium bought back 3.8 million shares for $134 million, wrapping up the initial $300 million authorisation. In March, the Board reloaded on another $300 million.

• Iridium announced that it is purchasing a rocket launch rideshare for $35 million to launch 5 of 6 ground spares currently in storage in Arizona.

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