Shares of Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) traded up about 2% in the noon hour Monday following a one-for-15 reverse stock split that became effective when the market opened this morning. Shares closed at $1.06 last Friday and opened at $15.16 Monday morning.
The company’s dividend yield had soared into the double digits as the company’s share price continued to fall. Following the reverse split, the current yield is just under 1%.
Frontier has been sinking under the weight of its long-term debt load. In its March filing, the company reported long-term debt of $17.9 billion, including payments of $363 million due this year. Cash and cash equivalents totaled $341 million.
Some would say that Frontier’s problems started with its $10.5 billion purchase of Verizon’s landline customers in California, Texas and Florida (CTF) in late 2015. The recent dividend cut from $0.105 to $0.04 annually has been good from a cash management perspective, saving about $300 million this year and an expected $400 million in 2018.
But Frontier has been losing subscribers every quarter and it needs to figure out a way to stop the bleeding. The CEO blames a lack of marketing effort for subscriber losses for the first two quarters following the Verizon CTF deal. For the most recent two quarters, Frontier has been purging its subscriber lists of non-paying Verizon customers.
An improved marketing program and gross subscriber additions are working, CEO Daniel McCarthy said in the first-quarter conference call. But investors loved Frontier for its dividend yield and now that it’s gone, there’s not much reason for them to return. Just look again at that total debt load.