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VimpelCom announces fourth quarter and annual 2002 financial and operating results

  • 82% year-on-year increase in net operating revenues
  • 174% year-on-year increase in net income
  • 117% % year-on-year increase in EBITDA
  • Approximately 6.2 million subscribers including 2.2 million regional subscribers as of today


Moscow and New York (March 27, 2003) Open Joint Stock Company "Vimpel-Communications" ("VimpelCom" or the "Company") (NYSE: VIP) today announced its financial and operating results for the fourth quarter of 2002 and year ended December 31, 2002. The fourth quarter of 2002 was another quarter of profitable growth as the Company reported continued subscriber growth in the Moscow license area and the doubling of its subscribers in the regions outside of Moscow. In terms of subscriber numbers, VimpelCom is now the second largest operator in Central and Eastern Europe.

As of December 31, 2002, VimpelCom had approximately 5.15 million subscribers on its wireless networks and networks operated by VimpelCom's subsidiaries, including 3.71 million subscribers in the Moscow license area, a total year-on-year growth of approximately 144.0%. As of today, VimpelCom's total number of subscribers reached approximately 6.15 million, with approximately 3.93 million subscribers in the Moscow license area and 2.22 million in the regions outside Moscow.

For the year ended December 31, 2002, VimpelCom reported net operating revenues of $768.5 million, an 81.8% increase from $422.6 million reported for 2001; EBITDA of $322.2 million, a 117.0% increase from $148.5 million reported for 2001; and net income of $129.6 million, a 173.9% increase, compared to a net income of $47.3 million reported for 2001.

Using independent sources to estimate the number of subscribers of the Company's competitors in the Moscow license area, VimpelCom estimates that its market share in the Moscow license area was 51.6% at the end of 2002, a significant improvement compared to the Company's estimated market share of 46.5% reported at the end of 2001. On a nationwide basis, independent sources estimate VimpelCom's market share at 28.0% at the end of 2002.

Commenting on today's announcement, Jo Lunder, Chief Executive Officer of VimpelCom, said, "2002 was a significant year for both the Russian cellular industry and VimpelCom. The regions of Russia have proven their great potential reflecting positive changes in the Russian economy and indicating the direction of future growth. We are pleased with our 2002 results: we increased our total subscriber base by 3 million, regained our leadership position in Moscow, made considerable progress in the regions and substantially improved all of our financial indicators. In 2003, we expect further rapid growth, particularly in the regions, as well as increased competition throughout Russia. We are confident that we will continue to benefit from our strategy of profitable growth with the emphasis on customer satisfaction and unified technical and business solutions across Russia."

 

Key Financial and Operating Indicators

(Reconciliation of EBITDA and gross margin to operating
income, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial
measurement, is presented below in the tables' section)

  Three months ended Years ended
Dec. 31,
2002
Dec. 31,
2001
Change
(%)
Dec. 31,
2002
Dec. 31,
2001
Change
(%)
Net operating revenues (US$,000) 228,978 134,082 70.8% 768,496 422,602 81.8%
EBITDA (US$,000) (1) 84,615 43,756 93.4% 322,209 148,456 117.0%
EBITDA margin (2) 37.0% 32.6% 13.5% 41.9% 35.1% 19.4%
Gross margin (US$,000) (3) 181,209 103,280 75.5% 615,345 310,914 97.9%
Gross margin percentage (4) 79.1% 77.0% 2.7% 80.1% 73.6% 8.8%
Net income (US$,000) 39,078 18,846 107.4% 129,552 47,301 173.9%
Net income per share (US$) 1.03 0.52 98.1% 3.41 1.41 141.8%
Net income per ADS (US$) (5) 0.77 0.39 97.4% 2.56 1.06 141.5%
ARPU (US$) (6) 16.0 24.0 -33.3% 18.3 26.2 -30.2%
MOU (min) (7) 89.3 106.6 -16.2% 92.3 105.3 -12.3%
SAC (US$) (8) 20.9 35.7 -41.5% 25.7 37.6 -31.6%

 

Note:

  1. EBITDA is a non-U.S. GAAP measurement. EBITDA, which represents operating income before depreciation and amortization, should not be considered in isolation as an alternative to net income, operating income or any other measure of performance under U.S. GAAP. We believe that EBITDA is viewed as a relevant supplemental measure of performance in the wireless telecommunications industry. The performance that EBITDA measures does not include our need to replace our capital equipment over time.
  2. EBITDA margin is EBITDA expressed as a percentage of net operating revenues.
  3. Gross margin is a non-U.S. GAAP measurement. It is defined as net operating revenues less selected operating costs (specifically, service costs, cost of handsets and accessories sold and cost of other revenues).
  4. Gross margin percentage is gross margin expressed as a percentage of net operating revenues.
  5. Each ADS represents 0.75 of one share of common stock.
  6. ARPU (Monthly Average Revenue per User) is calculated for each month in the relevant period by dividing the Company's service revenue during that month, including roaming revenue, but excluding revenue from connection fees and sales of handsets and accessories, by the average number of our subscribers during the month.
  7. MOU (Monthly Average Minutes of Use per User) is calculated for each month of the relevant period by dividing the total number of billable minutes of usage for incoming and outgoing calls during that month (excluding guest roamers) by the average number of subscribers during the month.
  8. SAC (Subscriber Acquisition Cost) is calculated as dealer commissions, advertising expenses and handset subsidies for the period divided by the number of gross sales during the period.

Significant improvements in VimpelCom's financial and operating results in 2002 were achieved largely as a result of rapid subscriber growth combined with the effects of economies of scale, efficient cost control, improved interconnect agreements with telephone line providers and lower acquisition costs per subscriber. However, in the fourth quarter of 2002, the Company recorded substantially reduced roaming revenues generated by the Company's subscribers and experienced other seasonal effects which resulted in a reduced rate of net operating revenues growth compared with the third quarter of 2002. Gross margin percentage was 79.1% in the fourth quarter of 2002, compared to a gross margin percentage of 80.2% recorded in the third quarter of 2002 and a gross margin percentage of 77.0% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2001. The year-on-year improvement in gross margin percentage was primarily due to the significant growth in usage of low-cost federal telephone numbers while the decrease in the fourth quarter of 2002 compared with the third quarter of 2002 was primarily due to the increased rental costs of the Company's transport network caused by large-scale expansion in the regions.

The Company's financial results include the activities in the regions outside the Moscow license area, which reflect the impact of expenses exceeding revenues as the Company continues its network build-out and infrastructure development and opens new regional offices. Total operating revenues, excluding inter-company transactions, for Moscow stand-alone and the regions in the fourth quarter of 2002 were $192.5 million and $39.8 million, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2002, total operating revenues were $698.7 million and $81.0 million, respectively. Net income for Moscow stand-alone in the fourth quarter of 2002 was $46.3 million and the regions' net loss was $8.7 million. Higher losses in the fourth quarter of 2002 in the regions than in the third quarter of the same year are primarily due to rapid business development in the regions (ten new branches were opened in the fourth quarter compared to seven in the third quarter) which brought additional start-up expenses. For the year ended December 31, 2002, net income was $150.6 million in Moscow and the regions recorded a $23.2 million net loss.

Selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses, as a percentage of net operating revenues, decreased from the 41.7 % reported in the fourth quarter of 2001 to 39.2% in the fourth quarter of 2002. SG&A for the year 2002, as a percentage of net operating revenues was 35.4%, practically unchanged from the 35.3% reported for 2001. The increase in SG&A from $68.4 million in the third quarter of 2002 to $89.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 was in part due to traditional Christmas and New Year sales campaigns as well as expenses related to the opening of new branch offices in the regions.

The Company's average subscriber acquisition cost (SAC) for the fourth quarter of 2002 was $20.9 compared to $24.6 in the third quarter of 2002 and $35.7 for the fourth quarter of 2001. The continued decrease in SAC was in part due to a decrease in dealer commissions and more efficient advertising. In addition, SAC decreased because of a growing percentage of regional sales where SAC is lower than in Moscow due to the relatively lower dealer commissions and larger proportion of sales through the Company's own offices.

For the year ended December 31, 2002, the Company recorded a $21.2 million provision for doubtful accounts receivable, a 57.9% increase compared with $13.4 million reported in 2001. As a percentage of net operating revenues, this reflects an improvement from approximately 3.2% in 2001 to 2.8% in 2002.

VimpelCom's total capital investments for 2002 were approximately $578.3 million, with $509.1 million of capital expenditures for purchase of property and equipment and $69.2 million of acquisitions of new entities. Capital expenditures for the Moscow license area in 2002 were approximately $241.9 million.

The Company's MOU in 2002 was 92.3 minutes, a decrease of approximately 12.3% compared to 105.3 minutes reported in 2001. This decrease primarily reflected the growing proportion of regional subscribers as well as the increased proportion of prepaid users in the Moscow subscriber base. ARPU for 2002 was approximately $18.3, a 30.2% decline from $26.2 reported for 2001. The decline in ARPU in 2002 compared to 2001 was primarily due to a change in the Company's subscriber mix and increased competition, which resulted in the reduction of tariffs. The decline in ARPU in the fourth quarter of 2002 compared to the third quarter of 2002 was also partly caused by the seasonal effects mentioned above.

 

Key Subscriber Statistics

 

  As of
Dec. 31, 2002
As of
Dec. 31, 2001
Change,
(year-on-year)
As of
Sept. 30, 2002
Change
q-to-q
(%)
Moscow license area 3,712,700 1,911,200 94.3% 3,305,200 12.3%
Contract 725,200 607,500 19.4% 714,958 1.4%
Prepaid 2,987,500 1,303,700 129.2% 2,590,242 15.3%
Regions 1,440,400 200,300 619.1% 723,100 99.2%
Total Number of Subscribers 5,153,100 2,111,500 144.0% 4,028,300 27.9%
 
Churn (quarterly) 8.7% 6.3% -- 8.5% --

 

Strong subscriber growth in Moscow continued through the fourth quarter of 2002 with prepaid subscribers growing faster than contract subscribers. As a result, the percentage of VimpelCom's prepaid subscribers in its Moscow subscriber base increased from approximately 78.4% at the end of the third quarter of 2002 to 80.5% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2002. VimpelCom's GSM subscribers in Moscow as a percentage of its overall Moscow subscriber base were 95.4% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2002, compared to 85.8% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2001. The Company also reported significant growth in its regional subscribers, from 723,100 at the end of the third quarter of 2002 to approximately 1,440,400 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2002, or 99.2% of quarter-on-quarter growth. The year-on-year subscriber growth in the regions was more than seven-fold, from 200,300 to 1,440,400, with more than 80% resulting through organic growth.

 

The Company's annual churn rate in 2002 was 30.8%, compared to the Company's churn rate of 23.0% reported for 2001. The increase in churn was primarily a result of high subscriber growth rates in 2002, particularly in the low-end user segment, as well as internal migration and increased competition.

 

The Company's management will discuss its fourth quarter and the year 2002 results on a conference call on March 27, 2003 at 6:30 pm Moscow time (10:30 am EST in New York). The call may be accessed via webcast at the following URL address http://audioevent.mshow.com/95530. The conference call replay and the webcast will be available through April 3, 2003 and April 14, 2003, respectively. A Company presentation will be posted on VimpelCom's website http://www.vimpelcom.com.

 

VimpelCom is a leading provider of telecommunications services in Russia, operating under the "Bee Line" family of brand names, which are among the most recognized brand names in Russia. The VimpelCom Group's license portfolio covers approximately 94% of Russia's population (137 million people), including the City of Moscow, the Moscow Region and the City of St. Petersburg. VimpelCom was the first Russian company to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"). VimpelCom's ADSs are listed on the NYSE under the symbol "VIP". VimpelCom's convertible notes are listed on the NYSE under the symbol "VIP 05".

 

This press release contains "forward-looking statements", as the phrase is defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. These statements relate to the Company's development plans. These and other forward-looking statements are based on Management's best assessment of the Company's strategic and financial position and of future market conditions and trends. These discussions involve risks and uncertainties. The actual outcome may differ materially from these statements as a result of unforeseen developments from competition, governmental regulation of the wireless telecommunications industry, general political uncertainties in Russia and general economic developments in Russia, the Company's ability to continue to grow its overall subscriber base, continued volatility in the world economy and other factors. As a result of such risks and uncertainties, there can be no assurance that the effects of competition or current or future changes in the political, economic and social environment or current or future regulation of the Russian telecommunications industry will not have a material adverse effect on the VimpelCom Group. Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in any forward-looking statements include the risks described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2001 and other public filings made by the Company with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which risk factors are incorporated herein by reference. VimpelCom disclaims any obligation to update developments of these risk factors or to announce publicly any revision to any of the forward-looking statements contained in this release, or to make corrections to reflect future events or developments.

 

For more information, please contact:

Valery Goldin
VimpelCom (Moscow)
Tel: 7(095) 974-5888
vgoldin@vimpelcom.com

Christopher Mittendorf
Edelman Financial Worldwide
Tel: 1(212) 704-8134
christopher.mittendorf@edelman.com

 

- Tables attached -

Open Joint Stock Company "Vimpel-Communications"
Consolidated Condensed Statements of Operations

 

  Three months ended
December 31,
Years ended
December 31,
2002 2001 2002 2001
(In thousands of US dollars,
except per share (ADS) amounts)
Operating revenues:  
  Service revenues US$216,763 US$120,772 US$725,938 US$381,282
Connection fees 382 596 1,930 2,039
Sales of handsets and accessories 14,568 14,216 49,934 43,228
Other revenues 654 322 1,842 1,347
Total operating revenues 232,367 135,906 779,644 427,896
  Less revenue based taxes (3,389) (1,824) (11,148) (5,294)
Net operating revenues 228,978 134,082 768,496 422,602
 
Operating expenses  
  Service costs 33,244 19,293 111,387 74,097
Cost of handsets and accessories sold 14,515 11,478 41,709 37,471
Cost of other revenues 10 31 55 120
Selling, general and administrative expenses 89,846 55,915 271,963 149,052
Depreciation 26,679 13,466 85,204 48,690
Amortization 3,476 3,223 12,213 12,616
Provision for doubtful accounts 6,748 3,609 21,173 13,406
Total operating expenses 174,518 107,015 543,704 335,452
 
Operating income 54,460 27,067 224,792 87,150
 
Other income and expenses:  
  Other income (loss) 1,549 (771) 1,725 (481)
Interest income 2,093 864 7,169 5,733
(Loss) gain on trading in securities (22) 173 36 420
Interest expense (14,128) (6,797) (46,586) (26,865)
Net foreign exchange (loss) gain (1,783) 1,497 (9,439) (110)
Total other income and expenses (12,291) (5,034) (47,095) (21,303)
 
Income before income taxes and minority interest 42,169 22,033 177,697 65,847
 
Provision for income taxes 5,016 3,246 49,939 18,539
Minority interest in net (losses) earnings of subsidiaries (1,925) (59) (1,794) 7
 
Net income US$39,078 US$18,846 US$129,552 US$47,301
 
Net income per common share US$1.03 US$0.52 US$3.41 US$1.41
Net income per ADS equivalent US$0.77 US$0.39 US$2.56 US$1.06
Weighted average common shares
outstanding (thousands)
38,026 35,987 38,014 33,642
 
Open Joint Stock Company "Vimpel-Communications"
Consolidated Condensed Balance Sheet
 
  December 31,
2002
December 31,
2001
(In thousand US dollars)
Assets  
Current assets
  Cash and cash equivalents US$263,657 US$144,172
Short-term investments - 920
Accounts receivable 75,399 49,678
Other current assets 149,309 69,217
Total current assets 488,365 263,987
 
Non-current assets
  Property and equipment, net 957,602 535,405
Telecommunication licenses, net 88,385 20,046
Other intangible assets, net 55,730 50,880
Other assets 102,662 55,488
Total non-current assets 1,204,379 661,819
 
Total assets US$1,692,744 US$925,806
 
Liabilities and shareholders' equity
Current liabilities:
  Accounts payable US$80,241 US$ 42,680
Due to related parties 4,114 883
Customer deposits and advances 106,655 63,019
Deferred revenue 2,016 1,874
Bank loans, current portion 37,780 17,852
Capital lease obligation, current portion 3,868 4,208
Equipment financing obligation, current portion 134,617 68,290
Accrued liabilities 49,492 13,035
Total current liabilities 418,783 211,841
 
Deferred income taxes 35,227 18,214
Bank loans, less current portion 306,080 50,100
Capital lease, less current portion 899 -
Accrued liabilities, less current portion 3,265 -
5.5% Senior convertible notes due July 2005 85,911 81,027
Equipment financing obligation, less current portion 81,425 56,196
 
Minority Interest 98,491 307
 
Shareholders' equity 662,663 508,121
 
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity US$1,692,744 US$925,806

Reconciliation of EBITDA to operating income

  Three months ended Years ended
December 31, 2002 December 31, 2001 December 31, 2002 December 31, 2001
EBITDA 84,615 43,756 322,209 148,456
Depreciation (26,679) (13,466) (85,204) (48,690)
Amortization (3,476) (3,223) (12,213) (12,616)
Operating income 54,460 27,067 224,792 87,150

Reconciliation of gross margin to operating income

 

Three months ended

Years ended

Dec. 31, 2002 Sep. 30, 2002 Dec. 31, 2001 Dec. 31, 2002 Dec. 31, 2001
Gross margin 181,209 177,200 103,280 615,345 310,914
Selling, general and administrative expenses (89,846) (68,354) (55,915) (271,963) (149,052)
Depreciation (26,679) (23,182) (13,466) (85,204) (48,690)
Amortization (3,476) (3,249) (3,223) (12,213) (12,616)
Provision for doubtful accounts (6,748) (6,279) (3,609) (21,173) (13,406)
Operating income 54,460 76,136 27,067 224,792 87,150
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