Liberty Global, Inc. ( CCRN)

Q3 2011 Earnings Conference Call

November 3, 2011 09:00 ET


Mike Fries – President and Chief Executive Officer

Charlie Bracken – Co-Chief Financial Officer

Diederik Karsten – Managing Director, European Operations

Balan Nair – Chief Technology Officer

Mauricio Ramos – Latin America


Jeff Wlodarczak – Pivotal Research Group

James Ratcliffe – Barclays Capital

David Joyce – Miller Tabak Company

Daniel Morris – JPMorgan

Hugh McCaffrey – Goldman Sachs

Jason Bazinet – Citi



Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to Liberty Global’s Investor Call. This call and the associated webcast are the property of Liberty Global and any redistribution, retransmission or rebroadcast of this call or webcast in any form without the expressed written consent of Liberty Global is strictly prohibited. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Today’s formal presentation materials can be found under the Investor Relations section of Liberty Global’s website at

Following today’s formal presentation, instructions will be given for a question-and-answer session. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded on this date, November 3, 2011.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global. Please go ahead, sir.

Mike Fries – President and Chief Executive Officer

Great, thank you operator. Good morning everybody or good afternoon wherever you maybe. We have a number of people on the call with us this morning as we usually do and folks you will likely hear from are Bernie Dvorak and Charlie Bracken, our Co-CFOs; Diederik Karsten, Managing Director of our European Operations; Balan Nair, our Chief Technology Officer; Mauricio Ramos who runs Latin America; and of course Rick Westerman.

Before we get going, I think we have a Safe Harbor statement. Operator?


Thank you. Page 2 of the slides details the company’s Safe Harbor statements regarding forward-looking statements. Today’s presentation may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the company’s expectation with respect to its outlook for 2011 and future growth prospects and other information and statements that are not historical facts.

These forward-looking statements involve certain risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These risks include those detailed from time-to-time in Liberty Global’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recently filed Forms 10-K/A and 10-Q. Liberty Global disclaims any obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or in the conditions on which any such statement is based.

I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Mike Fries.

Mike Fries – President and Chief Executive Officer

Great, thanks. The agenda we will use here is pre-typical. I will make some opening remarks, talk about the highlights of our business, little bit our operations and then Charlie will run through the financials and then we will try to get to your questions hopefully in about 20 minutes.

As the operator said we are going to be speaking from slide today and I am going to start with slide four which is a quick snapshot of the quarter for us. I think the key storyline continues to be our subscriber growth. This was our strongest third quarter in history with 320,000 net new RGUs added. In fact as most of you know, the summer months are typically very quiet in our business and yet we just delivered the second biggest quarter we have ever had. And the driver continued to be the strong demand for our high-speed high-value bundles, especially in Europe which represented over 90% of our sub-growth and were eighth out of our 11 European markets are growing faster this year than last year.

Our financial results reflect this growth I’ll just hit a few key numbers. Our rebased revenue was up 4% in the quarter which has been the trend pretty much all year. And year-to-date OCF growth is up 5% rebased of course. Now, you will notice that OCF growth in the third quarter was only 2%, but as Charlie will describe in more detail, this number was impacted by our higher than expected sub-growth and the associated CAC and marketing costs as well as some unique items meaningfully higher otherwise.

Looking at the bottom line, free cash flow was up 36% in the quarter and is trending for the year right at our mid-teens guidance. Complementing the continued improvement in growth is the stability of our balance sheet and Charlie will flush this out in more detail, but you will see that leverage continues to trend down a bit. We are at 4.3 gross leverage and 3.7 net with an average maturity approaching years.

And our liquidity position remained strong at $2.3 billion. Of course, that number excludes the $1.4 billion we have set aside for the KBW acquisition and the $1.1 billion we expect to receive as part of the Austar disposition. With the volatility in our stock, we have already surpassed our target of $1 billion in buybacks.

And as you can imagine, we remain active today and will remain active for the rest of the year. And of course this has been a busy year for us on the M&A front as we continue to focus resources on Europe and the opportunity to build market share across our existing footprint which spans now 10 contiguous European countries plus Ireland. During the quarter, we closed the Austar acquisition in Poland which added over 600,000 RGUs to a market that has consistently been one of our strongest performers.

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