Broadband sales rise, boost SureWest’s profit

Broadband carried SureWest Communications to a 19 percent jump in first-quarter revenue, the Roseville-based company said Wednesday.

Revenue in the first three months of 2009 grew to $60.9 million, compared with $51.3 million in the first quarter of 2008.

Much of the gain came from the broadband sector. Revenue soared 46 percent to $39.2 million from $26.8 million on the strength of what officials called “significant” broadband business performance, including a full three months from its Kansas City operations.

SureWest acquired Kansas City-based Everest Communications in February 2008 for $173 million.

The gain from SureWest’s $9.2 million sale of its wireless towers to Florida-based Global Tower Partners in February boosted the bottom line in the first quarter, increasing net income to $2.5 million from $283,000 posted in the year-previous quarter.

SureWest also saw broadband gains in the Sacramento area, with revenue up 12 percent from the year-previous quarter as more first-time homebuyers ventured back into the real estate market, chief executive officer Steve Oldham said.

The company’s revenue from telecom declined 11 percent, but SureWest said it anticipated the downturn. First-quarter telecom revenue was $21.7 million, compared with the nearly $24.5 million posted in the first quarter of 2008.

Telecom has suffered across the country as more people abandon traditional landline phones.

“Telecom is still very important, but it’s declining rapidly,” said Oldham. He said SureWest is working to combat the decline by upgrading copper systems to fiber, stressing pricing and its Voice over Internet Protocol services.

Shares of SureWest rose 36 cents to $7.01 Wednesday on the Nasdaq market.

– Darrell Smith