It there was anything that could join death and taxes as certainties, it was the elimination of Frontier Communications Corp.’s (NASDAQ: FTR) quarterly common stock dividend of $0.60 per share. The company took its medicine and suspended the dividend when it reported fourth-quarter and full-year results after markets closed Tuesday.
Frontier said it would save around $250 million annually as a result of the move because 19.25 million shares of mandatorily convertible preferred stock will be converted to common stock at the rate of 1.33 common shares for each preferred share on June 29, 2018. All those new shares of common stock would have required north of $200 million in new payments on top of the $47 million Frontier would have had to pay for existing shares.
Preferred shares were sold in July 2017 for $100 per share and carried a coupon rate of 11.125% per year. A preferred stock dividend of $2.78 per share will be paid next month and again in June.
The company plans to use the savings to pay down debt. At the end of last year, the company reported nearly $17 billion in long-term debt, with $656 million due within one year. Revenue in 2017 totaled $9.13 billion with a net loss of $1.8 billion. In the fourth quarter, revenues totaled $2.22 billion and the net loss totaled $1.03 billion.
Investors are simply killing the stock in Wednesday’s trading. Shares traded down more than 25% just before noon at $6.87.
Several analysts have already weighed in on Frontier:
- Cowen cut its price target from $14.00 to $8.50.
- Jefferies cut its price target from $25.00 to $8.00 and its rating from Buy to Hold.
- JPMorgan cut its price target from $8.00 to $7.00.
- Raymond James cut its price target from $30.00 to $20.00.
Frontier CEO Daniel McCarthy made our list of the worst CEOs of 2017 for a reason.
The stock was last seen at $6.93, down 25% on the day, in a 52-week trading range of $6.08 to $44.25. The consensus price target was $12.43 before last night’s earnings report, with a low target of $4 and a high target of $30.