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Fri, Feb. 5, 1:57 PM
- Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT) is pulling back a bit, down 3.5%, after a strong 6.9% gain yesterday post-earnings.
- Stephens upgraded the firm to Overweight from Equal Weight and raised its price target from $52 to $63, implying 30% upside from its current price of $48.29.
- Valuation is improved after a recent sell-off (Level 3 has declined 10% over the past month), says Stephens' Barry McCarver, who notes revenue growth is picking up after the company achieved its synergy target from integrating TW Telecom.
- “EMEA and Latin America should continue to improve as the company invests in its network and has opportunities for more acquisitions," McCarver notes. "Headwinds from International revenue have neutralized and may become tailwinds this year.”
- The company guided to significantly higher cash flow in the coming year, and some analysts think that could mean not only a possible repurchase program but also acquisitions.
- The company could go after privately held XO Communications, says Cowen's Colby Synesael, or it could be a target itself -- for a buyer like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Previously: Level 3 up 7% as revenues, profits grow (Feb. 04 2016)
- Previously: Level 3 EPS in-line, misses on revenue (Feb. 04 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 12:45 PM
- On Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Q4 earnings call, the company made its next step into telecom service by confirming it will file as a bidder in the FCC's wireless spectrum auction.
- They're only going to act against AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile "if the price is right" after they evaluate what ends up available.
- Shares are up 4.1% now and are touching their highest point in over a month.
- The company confirmed it paid $130M for 475 acres "adjacent to an existing theme park" -- likely a chunk of land alongside Universal Orlando, which has been pinched for space, and which could provide room for multiple parks, hotels and studio operations.
- Outside of any spectrum spending, Comcast has added $5B to its buyback program -- on the low side of expectations, but CFO Mike Cavanagh said it wouldn't go lower due to auction outlays.
- It also increased its dividend 10% to $1.10 (annualized).
- Previously: Comcast results close to estimates, video and high-speed adds strong (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast declares $0.275 dividend (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:37 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is pointing higher in premarket action after delivering largely in-line Q4 results.
- Operating income rose 5.7% Y/Y to $3.787B.
- Cable Communications revenue was up 5.9% to $11.31B. Cable rev growth breakdown: Video +4.4% to $5.19B; High-speed Internet +9.8% to $2.9B; Voice -1.7% to $916M; Business Services +18.9% to $1.1B; Advertising -9.3% to $703M; Other +6.4% to $537M.
- NBCUniversal revenue rose 13%, led by a 26% jump with the Filmed Entertainment segment off of strong home entertainment performances for Minions and Jurassic World. Cable networks revenue was up 3.4% to $2.327B.
- Overall customer relationships increased 281K, up 58% Y/Y to 27.7M, with high-speed Internet adds of 460K the best mark for the quarter in nine years. Video customer net adds of 89K were also tallied.
- Capex spending was up 19% to $2.6B during the quarter.
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
- CMCSA +0.53% premarket to $54.88.
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:22 AM
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:05 AM
Tue, Feb. 2, 5:30 PM
Tue, Feb. 2, 12:37 PM
- After Walt Disney (DIS -1.7%) floated trial balloons last year over demand-based pricing at its theme parks, Universal Studios (CMCSA -1.6%) is becoming the first to fully launch the model, anticipating heavy crowds at the April 7 opening of its attraction "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."
- In Universal's case, visitors buying at the gate will still pay $95. But booking online for low-demand days can save park visitors up to $20. Discounts will still be smaller on weekends and peak demand periods.
- The move can help Universal manage demand and comes with perks for customers: Those who book online can enter the Harry Potter area an hour before the rest of the park opens.
- Harry Potter attractions have been a big revenue driver for Comcast, and no doubt Disney is watching closely: It may want to better manage demand for its "Star Wars" land when it opens in Anaheim.
- Previously: Disney polls guests on demand-priced park ticket scheme (May. 28 2015)
Mon, Feb. 1, 4:42 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) and 20th Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) have led a $50M funding round for Atom Tickets, a firm with a mobile movie-ticketing app that allows for advance purchases of movie tickets and even concessions.
- Disney Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Mayer pointed to social as the root of their interest: “Their technology not only adds value to the consumer, but also helps movie studios and theaters by providing deep consumer insights, advanced analytics, and concession and ticket couponing.” It allows for groups to coordinate moviegoing while still being able to split the ticket prices.
- Dynamic pricing -- which could help theaters fill unsold seats in screenings -- may be in the future as well. The app is trying to cross moats around well-known brands in Fandango, owned by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and MovieTickets.com.
- Meanwhile Fandango has bought streaming service M-GO from joint venture owners Technicolor (OTCQX:TCLRY) and DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA). Terms weren't disclosed.
- It wants to build "new moviegoing products and services," and NBCUniversal has talked about working with Technicolor on virtual and augmented reality.
Mon, Feb. 1, 1:48 PM
- NBC (CMCSA -0.4%) and CBS (CBS +0.5%) will split Thursday Night Football coverage, along with the NFL Network, in an agreement reported by The Wall Street Journal.
- Each broadcast networks will pay about $225M and each get to telecast five games, which would be simulcast on NFL Network -- which will also get some exclusive broadcasts in the deal.
- CBS had a solo deal for the reliable Thursday night ratings that was reportedly for $300M, meaning a big increase for the NFL -- one that's par for the course with sports media rights over the past year.
- The league also plans an online package to add another revenue stream from the games.
- Previously: CBS may share 'Thursday Night Football' under new NFL terms (Jan. 12 2016)
Mon, Feb. 1, 3:24 AM
- Just how much longer should cord-cutters be able to watch episodes from the current seasons of TV shows on Hulu (CMCSA, FOX/FOXA, DIS)?
- That is one question that has emerged in negotiations between media giant Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and Hulu, which have been heating up lately, according to WSJ.
- The two sides have been in talks since late last year about Time Warner buying into the streaming site as a part-owner.
Fri, Jan. 29, 7:36 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is increasingly charging extra fees to its broadband customers using heavy amounts of data -- in what analysts consider an insurance policy against cord-cutting, and an increasing annoyance to aficionados of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
- In nearly all of the company's test markets, customers who exceed 300 GB/month pay $10 for extra increments of 50 GB, while in some cities, they can pay $30-$35/month more for unlimited data.
- Comcast argues that only about 8% of customers exceed the limit, and that usage-based billing is about fairness. “We’re just trialing ways to have a balanced relationship,” CEO Brian Roberts said last month. “I don’t think it’s illogical or something people should be paranoid about.”
- What may be most problematic are net neutrality objections raised when Comcast's own streaming service doesn't count toward data caps for its customers.
- Comcast's 300 GB wall is "very restrictive," says Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) chief Roger Lynch, and "clearly designed to discourage customers from using over-the-top services."
- Previously: Wheeler: FCC's look at data exemptions is still lower level (Jan. 28 2016)
Fri, Jan. 29, 11:22 AM
- A Trumpless debate resulted in the second-smallest TV ratings of the Republican debate cycle, though Fox News (FOX +1.5%, FOXA +1.7%) will be pointing to the fact that it still beat rivals' coverage of Trump's counter-debate rally.
- Last night's debate was seen by 11M-13M viewers, an 8.4 rating -- beating only last month's Fox Business debate among the GOP tilts (which, to be fair, have all been heavy in traditional terms). Fox News' first debate in August drew a crush of nearly 24M viewers.
- Even with Trump skipping, Fox easily beat coverage provided by CNN (TWX +0.6%) and MSNBC (CMCSA +1.8%) of Trump's veterans' rally, and had structured ad deals such that the Donald's absence wouldn't sting the pocketbook.
- Updated 12:45 p.m.: Final numbers show 12.5M viewers for the debate between 9 and 11 p.m. ET, while CNN and MSNBC had about 2.7M viewers combined.
Thu, Jan. 28, 7:14 PM
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that the agency's look into so-called "zero rating" -- telecom providers exempting some services (sometimes paid) from subscriber limits -- is informational, and that he hasn't attended any meetings on it yet.
- The talks are at the bureau level, he says: "I am not at these meetings. Nobody from the office of the chairman is in these meetings. They're gathering information and we'll see what happens from there."
- The agency has been meeting with key providers, including T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), AT&T (NYSE:T) and surely Verizon (NYSE:VZ), now that it's rolling out its "FreeBee" sponsored data solution.
- Meanwhile, Republican Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Ajit Pai are expressing their concerns to the "inquistors" over a procedure they see as unnecessary.
- Despite swirling concerns over net neutrality, Wheeler has praised T-Mobile's Binge On video streaming offering as "highly innovative and highly competitive."
- Previously: Verizon informs FCC of sponsored data plans (Jan. 20 2016)
- Previously: FCC summoning Internet providers to talk data policies (Dec. 17 2015)
- Previously: FCC chairman: T-Mobile video initiative 'highly competitive' (Nov. 19 2015)
Thu, Jan. 28, 3:49 PM
- Fox News (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -1.6%) scored a ratings coup last summer when it drew the highest viewership ever to a primary debate in the first GOP debate, with the help of poll leader Donald Trump.
- As the channel prepared to show its second debate tonight, Trump's reignited feud with Fox News and withdrawal threatened to dampen those ratings -- and in fresh news, CNN (TWX -2.1%) and MSNBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) plan to cover at least some of Trump's competing event tonight.
- MSNBC says it will cover a speech by Trump in the 9 p.m. hour, Variety's Brian Steinberg says, while CNN might treat it as a live news event.
- Previously: Fox debate draws crush of 24M viewers; Stewart gets 3.5M for finale (Aug. 07 2015)
Thu, Jan. 28, 12:35 PM
- Hulu is shoring up its documentary cred with a deal to become the exclusive home of documentaries by IFC Films after their theatrical release.
- The agreement covers documentaries put out by IFC Films, IFC Midnight, and Sundance Selects. The first film covered will be King Georges, about French restaurateur Georges Perrier, followed by City of Gold (about food critic Jonathan Gold) and Sundance premiere Weiner (about former congressman Anthony Weiner).
- Weiner, though, will hit Hulu (CMCSA, FOX/FOXA, DIS) after a 15-month exclusive run on Showtime (which also can be added to Hulu).
- The documentaries will be available on Hulu's Limited Commercial and No Commercial plans.
Wed, Jan. 27, 1:09 PM
- The FCC is planning to allow for open competition in pay-TV set-top boxes, which would open a new front against multichannel providers for hardware makers including Apple and Alphabet as well as TiVo.
- A document shows that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans a proposal that would see a Feb. 18 vote, to open up a market where Americans spend $20B a year to lease equipment from their providers -- an average of $231/year.
- The proposal also looks to prevent pay TV providers from using security systems to prevent competition. An industry trade group opposes competition in the device market, saying it wouldn't provide new programming or lower TV bills.
- The entry of Apple and Google could mean that traditional set-top functions are provided by a tablet instead.
- Set-top box rental fees have jumped 185% since 1994, the FCC's document says, while the cost of TVs, computers and mobile phones has fallen 90% in that time frame.
- Updated 1:11 p.m.: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tweets: "It is time for us to unlock the set-top box market, as we did w/ Ma Bell phones & devices on wireless networks."
- Pay TV players: CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
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