Sunday, March 29, 2015
- Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) plans to close some stores and consolidate its operations in Canada, in a move that will hurt its earnings by $0.10-$0.20 this year.
- Costing about $200M-$280M in restructuring charges, Best Buy said it will close 66 of its Future Shop stores in Canada and convert 65 of them into Best Buy outlets.
- The retailer also announced plans to spend $160M to improve its Canadian online operations, increase staffing at its remaining stores, and launch a range of home appliances.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
- The rush by the casino industry into REIT conversions could have a damaging long-term impact, warn casino industry analysts.
- The "quick-buck" mentality to eliminate debt through the REIT play sets aside the difficulty down the road to get separate companies with different objectives to agree on needed capital expenditures on properties.
- Buy-and-hold investors could get burned if REIT-touched casino properties lag peers due to the dueling C-suites.
- A REIT cloud hangs over Pinnacle Entertainment (NYSE:PNK), Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD), MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM), and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) - while Gaming and Leisure Properties (NASDAQ:GLPI) already pulled the trigger.
Friday, March 27, 2015
- Glenn Lurie, CEO of AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), says he's not worried about the outcome if Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) -- third and fourth in the U.S. wireless market behind AT&T and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- decide to merge.
- "We are a very, very different company than the other three," he tells FierceWireless. "So whatever happens with them, I'm not really that concerned. I'm concerned about how we execute and how we operate."
- His No. 1 goal, Lurie says, is to reduce churn and preserve the company's current subscribers in order to upsell other services.
- Chatter continues to suggest that Sprint and T-Mobile may have to think about combining to achieve competitive scale, and in the meantime they're firing salvos in a price war that Lurie says AT&T won't join: "This industry is not commoditized at all."
- Previously: Goldman upgrades T-Mobile; DT reiterates merger wish (Jan. 20 2015)
- More from the increasingly contentious battle over Vivendi's (OTCPK:VIVHY) future: The company has written to hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management saying that if PSAM joins forces with other shareholders, it could violate French law by coordinating with other investors in excess of a 20% limit for foreign nationals outside the EU.
- Schoenfeld just responded with a statement noting its disappointment and saying "We have received a letter whose purpose seems to be to intimidate us. We consider this behavior totally unacceptable."
- PSAM requested in its newest letter that Vivendi publicly disclose its information relating to its monitoring of the 20% threshold.
- Earlier, PSAM agitated for Vivendi to sell Universal Music and to issue nearly $10B in special dividends. The fund will clash with management at the April 17 annual meeting.
- Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bolloré this week poured €632M in to boost his stake in the company to 10.2%. PSAM owns less than 1% but plans to gather support for a proxy fight.
- Vivendi finished -1.2% in Euronext Paris; ADRs down 0.2% in the U.S.
- Previously: Vivendi downgraded; Bolloré adds to stake amid activist threat (Mar. 27 2015)
- Previously: Hedge fund calls for $10B in special dividends from Vivendi (Mar. 23 2015)
- Companies made key bets on India's wireless phone industry this week -- and Idea Cellular made the biggest of all -- in a spectrum auction that drew $17.6B overall.
- Idea -- India's No. 3 wireless carrier -- spent the most among carriers, with 300B rupees ($4.8B) in bids across three different bands (900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz).
- Bharti Airtel (291B rupees, or $4.65B) and Vodafone (VOD; 259.6B rupees, or $4.15B) spent nearly as much. The three dominated the auction bidding due to license renewals they had to accomplish before a December expiration. Overall, bidders focused on 4G bandwidth in order to grow more high-speed services.
- The size of the auction raised eyebrows, and Idea said it would take advantage of a government-offered deferred payment.
- In a reflection of the recent U.S. wireless auction, Bharti Airtel complained about the auction format: "We hope that in future auctions, the government will make available adequate spectrum by securing it from agencies and operators who are underutilizing this vital resource," said the company's regional CEO Gopal Vittal.
- Profitability is on the rise among Indian carriers, with 120M smartphone users in country and sliding handset prices expected to fuel further subscriber growth.
- If America Movil (NYSE:AMX) doesn't sell off assets -- as it said it planned to, to address competitive concerns -- it may not necessarily face tougher regulation after all, Mexico's chief telecom regulator says.
- The Federal Telecommunications Institute plans a March 2016 rule revision -- and after Mexico's congress passed telecom reform last summer to reduce the dominance of Carlos Slim's telecom giant, the company has planned asset sales to comply.
- But "The problem of the market is not the size of the operator; this is a market with economies of scale, it's capital intensive; the problem is having that power and abusing it," says IFT President Gabriel Contreras.
- AT&T and SoftBank were said to be looking at AMX's assets, which should draw more than $10B and maybe more than $15B in a sale.
- These mega-franchise "cinematic universes" are really catching on: Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB) plans to expand its Transformers films with more sequels and even spinoffs, an ambitious plan that mirrors Disney's efforts with its Marvel and Star Wars brands.
- Writer Akiva Goldsman is being brought in to join Michael Bay, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Spielberg as producers, and Goldsman will head a "writers room" to create a two-part sequel as well as possible spinoff films.
- Transformers is no cheap toy for Paramount or Viacom; Four films in the series since 2007 have made billions, with last year's Transformers: Age of Extinction making $1.1B globally.
- Earlier than expected, Sony (NYSE:SNE) has added content from AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) to its PlayStation Vue streaming TV offering -- so the service's zombie fans (or fans of zombies) can get The Walking Dead's season five finale this coming Sunday.
- Vue (which is currently only available in NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia) now has AMC and WEtv in all packages, and IFC and Sundance in its mid- and high-priced Core and Elite tiers.
- Still absent (and still a dealbreaker for many): Disney's channels, including ABC TV and ESPN. Sony says it's in talks to make those happen.
- Three months after stating it's exploring such a move, Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG) has announced it's spinning off its sports and entertainment businesses into a separate, publicly-traded, company.
- The spinoff will include the Knicks, the Rangers, Madison Square Garden itself, Radio City Music hall, several other theaters, live productions such as Radio City Christmas Spectacular, entertainment JVs, and MSG's interest in Fuse Media. It's expected to be completed in 2015.
- MSG +2.8% AH to $83.00, making new 52-week highs in the process.
- Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) is up 1.6% as it launches a unit focused on investment in emerging technologies.
- Sinclair Digital Ventures will put funds into partner companies who can engage Sinclair viewers with advertisers on a series of smaller screens (Web, social media, mobile).
- The unit will be overseen by COO David Amy, CFO Chris Ripley and the COO of Sinclair's Digital Group, Rob Weisbord.
- In its Q4 report last month, Sinclair noted that digital offering revenues were up 70.7%, and Web and mobile platforms had more than 35M unique visitors in December.
- Previously: Sinclair Broadcast Group higher on record results (Feb. 18 2015)
- BNP Paribas has downgraded Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) two full notches, to Underperform from Outperform.
- Facing an activist challenge, Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bolloré has increased his stake in the conglomerate to 10.2%, via a purchase of an extra 27.7M shares for €632M. His stake has now doubled over the past month.
- Hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management has pressed Vivendi to sell Universal Music Group and this week called for €9B in special dividends from the cash-rich firm.
- While activists want the firm to get slimmer, Bolloré wants to use the cash hoard to expand Universal Music Group as well as Canal Plus, along with more acquisitions.
- ADRs are down 0.3%.
- Pandora Media (NYSE:P) -- down 1.5% during lunch hour -- jumped back into positive ground, now up 3.4%, as LMM's bullish Bill Miller tells CNBC the stock trades at a "monstrous discount to what it would be valued at if it were privately held."
- While Spotify is recently valued around $10B, he points to Pandora as a profitable company with a $3.3B market cap and expects the company to grow earnings at 100% annually over the next three years.
- "It has 88M listeners, and it streams more music than YouTube does video," Miller says.
- He notes Pandora sold down as user growth slowed but "that picked up again in the quarter." They're probably going to lose some market share to possible competition from Spotify and Apple, but he believes Pandora's lead is sustainable.
- TV Everywhere -- the business model providing authenticated premium TV streaming to multiple connected devices -- is now six years old, but after some strong 2014 growth may be poised to go mainstream, Adobe's 2014 digital-video study concludes.
- Usage per quarter last year of authenticated streams averaged 13% of pay-TV subscribers, double the same figure from 2013 and more than triple the 4% in Q1 of 2013.
- While HBO Go (NYSE:TWX) has proved popular, gains were helped by NBC's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) strong promotion of TV Everywhere for the Sochi Winter Olympics, among other big sporting events.
- The report looked at 2.1B authenticated video views for 2014 vs. 574M in 2013. It predicts that overall active viewership will reach 18% by year-end, even without major sports events this year, and that online viewing on mobile devices will pass desktop viewing by Q4 2016.
- Among Adobe's other predictions: The combined AT&T/DirecTV will offer a "skinny" OTT service to compete with Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); big MVPDs will follow Comcast in making the experience better; and cable companies will follow NBC in making more back catalog content available on demand.
- Ford (F +0.1%) CEO Mark Fields earned $18.6M in total compensation during 2014 after heading the company for the second half of the year.
- Previous CEO Alan Mulally took home $22M in total comp last year after incentive bonuses are factored in.
- Breaking even in Europe and breaking through with the F-150 aluminum model are two of Fields' biggest initiatives to watch.
- SEC Form 14A
11:46 AM| Comment!
- Wind Telecomunicazioni, the Italian unit of VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP), has closed on selling 90% of its towers business to Spanish firm Abertis (OTCPK:ABRTY), for €693M (about $753M).
- Abertis will name its terrestrial telecoms unit Cellnex Telecom, which will officially exist April 1 with more than 15,000 towers, including the 7,377 towers it's attaining via a 90% stake in Wind's Galata Co.
- The Wind tower business will generate about €200M in revenues in its first year, Cellnex says.
- Wind will provide services on the sites for 15 years, with an option for another 15-year extension.
- Previously: VimpelCom unit sells most of towers business to Abertis (Mar. 02 2015)
- Previously: VimpelCom may draw $1B from impending sale of Italy towers (Feb. 27 2015)
- Telus (TU -0.9%) says it's closed on $1.75B offered in three series of senior unsecured notes, a move following its bid for wireless spectrum licenses in early March.
- The company offered three-year, seven-year and 30-year notes and the deals were oversubscribed.
- Average term to maturity of the company's long-term debt will increase to 11.1 years, and weighted-average cost of LT debt drops 30 basis points to 4.42%, says the company's Executive Chair Darren Entwistle.
- Telus bid $1.5B earlier this month to get 15 MHz of wireless spectrum in Canada's AWS-3 auction.
- Previously: Rogers skips Canada's spectrum auction; new players buy in (Mar. 06 2015)
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