Shentel reports strong 2017 financials and new TiVo products

Shentel had a rosy end-of-year report for 2017.

The company acquired a million new customers through its expanded relationship with Sprint, the stock price grew by more than a quarter, and the company reported continued development in the old nTelos service area.

Chief operating officer Earle MacKenzie attributes this to the company’s efforts to keep abreast of market trends, proactively handling shifting consumer habits.

For instance, Mackenzie said that in recent year customers have been transitioning from cable television to online providers like Netflix and Hulu. He said Shentel has been building its network to handle this growing source of traffic.

“We’re keeping our network up-to-date and ahead of the demand so that folks can stream whatever video they want to stream over their broadband connection,” MacKenzie said.

He said Shentel invested approximately half a billion dollars in growing its networks over the past three or four years, especially in the coverage area it gained through acquiring nTelos.

He added that the company plans to spend $150 million on network investments in 2018.

“We are growing, across the board,” MacKenzie said. “We’re continuing to invest in fiber, continuing to invest in our cable markets, and continuing to increase broadband speeds here in Shenandoah County. We’re making investments throughout our network.”

Shentel announced the launch of TiVo products, a digital video recorder and television streaming device, to its customers Wednesday.

“TiVo has been synonymous with video recording for a generation. We are sure that Shentel customers will love this new TiVo experience,” said Tom Whitaker, senior vice president of cable at Shentel. “It combines the ability to search your favorite TV shows and discover new, over-the-top video on streaming apps like Netflix. It truly is the best of both worlds, combining traditional television and the most popular streaming services.”

MacKenzie said customers can opt-in to rent the TiVo best suited for their households, and while the cost will vary based on a specific household’s needs, he said the average customer will be charged $25 a month for the equipment.

In 2017, Shentel’s stock started just over $27, climbing sharply until it reached nearly $42 in July, and ended the year at a more modest $34. MacKenzie said that when it comes to stock price, Shentel takes the long view.

“If you go back and look at the history of our stock, we have quite a bit of volatility,” he said. “It’s been a constant upward trend, but if you look at any short-term periods we can have quite a bit of volatility in the short run.”

Zooming out, it’s clear that Shentel’s stock has been steadily growing since 2012.

“Shentel’s philosophy has always been kind of a long-term. We invest money in networks that, obviously it takes a long time to build,” MacKenzie said. “We look that same way on our stock price. There will be variations from day to day or week to week, but what we really look for is the long-term growth for our shareholders.”