While Vonage has been calming investor nerves by speedily settling patent infringement lawsuits of late, the expense of paying off Big Telco has taken its toll on the VoIP company’s earnings.
The company yesterday reported a third-quarter net loss of $161.8m, almost $100m more than its year-ago loss. The loss per share was $1.04, compared to $0.40 a year ago.
Factoring out non-operating expenses such as the cost of litigation, the loss per share would actually have been a more palatable $0.10, according to Vonage.
The company also revealed yesterday that it has reached a settlement with AT&T, the third and final traditional phone company that has sued Vonage for patent infringement.
This settlement, which would see Vonage pay AT&T $39m over five years, comes just three weeks after the lawsuit, which alleged infringement of a packet-based phone system patent, was filed.
The speed of the settlement is a clear indication that Vonage has no interest in continuing to defend itself in court against its main competitors, all of which have far deeper pockets.
Indeed, it could be argued that AT&T only filed its suit after it became apparent that Vonage’s money was easy pickings, following a string of multimillion dollar settlements over the last 30 days.
Since October 8, Vonage has settled patent lawsuits with Verizon, Sprint Nextel and voicemail firm Klausner Technologies for possibly $200m.
Quite apart from the lawsuits, Vonage is clearly still struggling as a business. Some important line items have improved over the last year, while others are not looking as healthy as Vonage would like.
Revenue grew 30% to $211m.
The company has managed to rein in its marketing spend somewhat, laying out $62m in the quarter, 29% of revenue, down from $91m, or 56% of revenue, a year ago. Marketing fell 9% sequentially.
Average monthly revenue per line was $28.24, up a slim 2% on the year up down slightly on the second quarter’s $28.38.
Average monthly customer churn – the rate at which it is losing customers – was a disappointing 3.0%, up from 2.5% a quarter ago.
Vonage added 78,000 net subscribers in the quarter, compared to 57,000 in the second quarter, leaving it with over 2.5 million subscriber lines on its books.
We are executing against our strategy to fix the fundamentals of our business, chief executive Jeffrey Citron said in a statement. We are acquiring customers more effectively and running the business at an improved cost structure.
While this has resulted in positive changes in our business, we have much more to do, he said. Our primary focus today is to improve the customer experience to reduce churn.