Intelsat or SES? Exchange Rate Dictates Top Dog

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PARIS — Currency exchange rate on the wall, who’s the biggest fleet operator of them all?

In the case of Intelsat and SES in 2014, it depends. SpaceNews in the past has used Dec. 31 exchange rates to set U.S. dollar revenue values for companies that use the calendar year as their fiscal year.

By that measure, Intelsat’s 2014 revenue of $2.47 billion edges out SES’s performance of 1.92 billion euros, which converts to $2.33 billion.

But the dollar saw a spectacular rise in the second half of the year, meaning that, more than in most years, an end-of-December conversion distorts the full-year picture.

The interbank exchange rate was $1.22 per euro at Dec. 31, 2014. But the average rate for 2014 was $1.33 — a 9 percent difference.

At $1.33 per euro, SES’s revenue weighs in at $2.55 billion, topping Intelsat for the first time. The two companies’ growth forecasts anticipate that this is not a one-off event, and that SES will be installed at the top spot for the foreseeable future — until and unless Eutelsat buys Telesat. But that’s another story.