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Hurricane Fiona cost Liberty Puerto Rico $12M in 3Q22

Liberty Puerto Rico experienced $12 million in costs associated with Hurricane Fiona during the third quarter of 2022, including service credits and other expenses, according to the financial results its parent company, Liberty Latin America, released for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30.

The Category-1 storm hit at the tail-end of the quarter, on Sept. 18, causing island wide power outages that interrupted service — mostly in the cable TV segment, and for some wireless customers — for which Liberty granted credits on customer bills to compensate.

“Regarding the impact of Hurricane Fiona, the great news was that our mobile network demonstrated its resilience, thanks to investments in underground fiber as well as standby generators in over 85% of cell sites,” said Liberty Puerto Rico CEO Naji Khoury.

“Network coverage remained close to 100% and utilization increased more than 20%. The network held up so well that we were able to open it for other carriers’ customers,” he said.

“We proactively provided our customers with automatic credits to compensate for the period during which they were without broadband or television service. This type of customer experience has helped us retain a high net promoter score (NPS) in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands,” he said.

All told, hurricane-related expenses will likely reach about $20 million this year, Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair said in comments included with the quarterly report.

“While we experienced some negative impacts from Hurricane Fiona, specifically in Puerto Rico where we anticipate a negative cash flow impact of $20 million this year, we don’t anticipate any material ongoing challenges and remain excited about fully integrating our fixed-line and resilient mobile operations in that market,” he said.

During the third quarter, Liberty Puerto Rico reported $366.9 million in revenue, up 3% from the $357.3 million reported for the same period in 2021. The company’s performance benefited from the inclusion of its fixed operations in the US Virgin Islands in the quarter.

“We maintained strong commercial momentum this quarter, with network performance supporting our subscriber growth in both our fixed and mobile services. We continue to invest in our networks, achieving higher speeds, better coverage, and greater resiliency,” Khoury told News is my Business.

During the third quarter, Liberty Puerto Rico reported $131.5 million in its Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization (OIBDA), representing a 6% drop from the $139.3 million for the same quarter in 2021. The drop was directly attributed to Hurricane Fiona’s impact on operations.

“The trend of steady growth in Puerto Rico and the USVI continued during the third quarter of 2022. Our solid performance was driven by the strength of our network and back-to-school demand, despite the impact of Hurricane Fiona in September,” said Khoury.

“In our fixed segment, our broadband subscriptions were up by 16% year over year and 51% sequentially. We have added 25,000 homes so far this year, which provides an additional growth driver. Our pricing remains competitive, and subscriber trends demonstrate that consumers see value in our services,” he said.

As for the company’s mobile segment, it continued to add subscribers in the quarter. Despite retail disruption related to Hurricane Fiona, the company grew both postpaid and prepaid segments with 13,900 combined new subscribers, Khoury said.

In the USVI, Khoury said, “we’re very excited about our fiber build-out, which is now underway. We will have the only fiber network with full coverage across the islands.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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