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Jul. 9, 2015, 11:11 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.4%) is adding five key countries to its unlimited phone calling plan, meaning it claims no-cost calling for its phone customers to almost half the world's population.
- The carrier is adding calls to Mexico, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea to its Xfinity Voice Unlimited plan.
- Using its app, subscribers can call from smartphones and devices connected to Wi-Fi as well as their home phones.
- The plan has rolled out in the company's Central Division, and will roll out to Northeast customers next week and others by the end of August.
- Comcast has more than 11M phone customers, with nearly all residential customers signed up for the Xfinity Voice Unlimited plan.
Jul. 8, 2015, 9:00 PM
- With its failed bid for Time Warner Cable fading into memory, Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) earnings call this month is likely to focus on its performance refocus, growth and other metrics -- including its buyback plans, notes Reinhardt Krause.
- TWC's sizable cash flows would likely have meant a step-up in stock repurchases by the merged company, while Comcast alone is likely to have mostly used up its existing $10B authorization by the end of the year.
- In an environment when companies are taking on low-interest debt to fuel buybacks, "With capital intensity decreasing longer term, Comcast could buy back 20% of its market cap in 2015-19 while actually deleveraging," says Barclays' Kannan Venkateshwar.
- Meanwhile, in M&A, few are expecting Comcast to rebound from the failed TWC deal with more deals. A wireless firm likely isn't in its plans, though an Internet content deal (a la Verizon/AOL) isn't out of the question.
- New CFO Michael Cavanagh will debut in the July 23 earnings call in a year where the company's TV businesses face pressure even as the stock has hit record highs, with no small help from Universal Studios.
Jul. 7, 2015, 9:34 PM
- Next week, the FCC is looking to keep a landmark broadcast incentive wireless spectrum auction on track for early next year despite contentious debates from stakeholders -- and if it does, it's a boon for T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), says Guggenheim's Paul Gallant.
- That's because though T-Mobile and Sprint (NYSE:S) have pushed for a bigger reserve of spectrum for "smaller carriers" (i.e.: them), a delay might mean that the current 30 MHz set-aside was at risk.
- Meanwhile, the airwaves will be coming from TV broadcasters who must go along with any plan -- meaning they expect to see prices they like. A group representing smaller broadcasters say if the framework isn't revised, opening prices for broadcasters could be reduced by $8M.
- Major broadcasters (ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), FOX) aren't expected to be key airwaves sellers, while smaller groups like Sinclair (NASDAQ:SBGI) and Entravision (NYSE:EVC) are expected to sell.
- Related firms: T, VZ
- Previously: FCC chairman: Cap bid credits, keep smaller spectrum set-aside (Jun. 25 2015)
Jul. 7, 2015, 6:45 PM
- A big fiber buildout from AT&T (T +0.5%) is likely to hurt big cable, including Comcast (CMCSA +0.6%), Charter (CHTR +0.5%), Time Warner Cable (TWC +0.7%) and Cablevision (CVC +1%), analyst Craig Moffett says, and it's reminiscent of the mid-2000s.
- Documents from AT&T show that after wrapping its DirecTV merger, it plans to run fiber past the equivalent of 11.7M homes, he notes. The catch is exactly where that fiber runs, and how much that overlaps the cablecos' footprints.
- Cable analysts, he says, will have to "adjust their models to reduce both growth and pricing power assumptions.”
- Moffett estimates that Comcast may have the biggest change in overlap, to 22% from 18%. For Charter, it would go to 12% from 7%. And a Charter-Time Warner Cable combination would go from a 17% overlap to 21%.
Jul. 7, 2015, 11:26 AM
- Among a number of technical moves today, Comcast (CMCSA -0.7%) has extended its cloud DVR service to central California, allowing its X1 customers to stream their TV lineup on any screen in the home, or to download recorded programs to view on various devices.
- The company has launched an Xfinity app for iOS and Android as well as a dedicated portal for viewing on computers (Comcast points to CEA data showing 46% of TV households watch on a laptop, notebook or netbook).
- Meanwhile, it's upgrading speeds at no cost for most Xfinity Internet customers in the Eastern U.S., moving speed for its "Blast" tier to 150 Mbps and launching a new tier at 75 Mbps.
- And it's launched more than 1,800 new Wi-Fi hotspots in its "Keystone Region" in Pennsylvania.
Jul. 6, 2015, 1:09 PM
- A holiday weekend at the box office failed to produce sparks from high-profile new releases, as it was June's dinosaurs and Pixar that kept ruling the day.
- Over the five-day holiday period, it was Inside Out (DIS +0.5%) that earned the crown with $45.3M, to $43.8M grossed by Jurassic World (CMCSA +0.2%). On the more standard three-day measure, Jurassic World edged Inside Out in preliminary numbers, $30.9M to $30.1M, to lead the box office for the fourth straight weekend.
- That brings Inside Out to $246.2M in domestic grosses in three weeks, while Jurassic World has over $558M in four weeks to become the No. 4 domestic grosser of all time (and No. 5 globally with $1.385B).
- Meanwhile, high-profile new entries were mild disappointments -- Terminator: Genisys (VIA -1.1%, VIAB -1.1%) earned $28.7M over three days to finish a close third, and drew $44.2M over the five-day holiday; and Magic Mike XXL (TWX -1.1%) was fourth with $11.6M in three days and $27M over five days, drawing a 96% female audience (high even considering the male-stripper subject matter).
- Disney crossed the $3B mark globally, as Inside Out continues to cruise, and Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in its last international market, pulling $6.5M in two days in Japan. It's the sixth year that Disney has earned $3B globally, but the fast it has done so, five weeks faster than last year's record of Aug. 5.
- Updated 6:17 p.m.: Final figures show that Inside Out prevailed both in the three-day measure ($29.8M to Jurassic World's $29.2M) and the five-day holiday figures ($45.1M to Jurassic World's $42.1M).
Jul. 4, 2015, 3:36 PM
- The halfway point of 2015 has come for film studios, and fireworks are popping at Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), as its Universal Pictures continues to ring up a banner year.
- Through last weekend, Universal leads studios in domestic grosses with just short of $1.38B. That's good for 25% market share, lifted by the runaway success of Jurassic World ($500M domestic), Furious 7 ($351M), and nicely performing Pitch Perfect 2 ($181M) and Fifty Shades of Grey ($166M).
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) recently set their own record times to the $1B domestic mark. Disney, with $1.08B domestic, has a 19.7% market share marked by Avengers: Age of Ultron ($452.5M), Cinderella ($200.3M) and Inside Out ($185M and counting), while Warner Bros., with $1.02B, has an 18.5% market share chiefly due to American Sniper ($348.8M).
- Universal's domestic grosses are running up 138% from last year's pace at this point, while Disney's are up 37% and Warner Bros. up 16.7%.
- Sony (SNE; $218.7M) and Paramount (VIA, VIAB; $276.6M) are working with smaller film slates so far, with just four and three films out respectively, compared to Universal's nine, Disney's seven, and Warner's 13. Fox (FOX, FOXA; $641M gross) is running fourth so far with seven films.
- Key films ready to take their turn this summer: Paramount's Terminator: Genisys and Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation, Warner's Magic Mike XXL and Universal's Minions.
Jul. 1, 2015, 3:50 PM
- While AT&T and CBS settled another carriage negotiation today, Comcast (CMCSA, up 3.3% and setting new all-time highs this afternoon) and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) are still talking over a less certain deal -- and with Discovery's key "Shark Week" programming just a few days away.
- Talks are progressing after some early Discovery worries about retaliation (Discovery spoke out against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger deal). Some analysts figure that with the TWC deal dead, Comcast may get more aggressive in carriage talks.
- Shark Week broke Discovery viewing records last August.
- Also today, New York's 30 Rockefeller Plaza -- longtime home of NBC, and previously known as the RCA Building and the GE Building -- officially became the "Comcast Building." New signage on the iconic Manhattan skyscraper will hold Comcast's logo, as well as feature NBC's trademark peacock for the first time.
- Previously: Comcast at all-time high as Brean raises target (Jul. 01 2015)
Jul. 1, 2015, 12:43 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.5%) is hovering at its all-time intraday high, of $61.75, following bullish notes from Brean Capital today.
- Brean's Todd Mitchell raised the firm's price target for Comcast to $69, from $67, while maintaining a Buy rating.
- A successful year for film should make up for shortfalls elsewhere, with no small amount of help from Jurassic World and its $1B-plus global grosses, Mitchell notes: "This should offset lower expected growth of 1% from broadcast networks and a 5% drop at Cable Networks, with both facing tough comps."
- Brean sees cable margins coming under pressure; the firm estimates that cable revenues should rise 6% to $11.7B and operating cash flow up 5% to $4.79B, slightly down from its previous estimate of $4.84B.
Jun. 30, 2015, 11:23 AM
- Cable and wireless firms are on the (legal) clock, as a D.C. appeals court is setting an expedited schedule for them to provide briefs on the set of challenges to FCC net neutrality rules.
- Firms will need to provide their opening briefs (20,000 words or fewer) by July 30, meaning final briefs will be due Oct. 13, and oral argument could begin by year's end.
- The disputes now are largely around Title II reclassification (Internet access as a utility) and interconnection, rather than bans on blocking/throttling or paid prioritization.
- Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
Jun. 29, 2015, 5:46 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) top the media picks on Barclays' top picks list out today, and SBA Communications (NASDAQ:SBAC) leads the firm's telecom sector picks.
- Comcast has an EV smaller than Disney's -- but an EBITDA 60% larger, as well as comparable free cash flow and EBITDA growth, and is the only vertically integrated media play, Barclays says. It has a $68 price target; shares finished today -1.7% to $59.98.
- Fox, meanwhile, has "the most attractive name" in Barclays' media and advertising coverage; risks over downward guidance revisions and the Murdoch transition are well understood, and the company is outpacing others on growth and has exposure to key international markets. Barclays' price target: $39; FOXA closed today -2% to $32.29.
- SBAC, meanwhile, replaces American Tower (NYSE:AMT) as Barclays' top telecom pick, in part due to the company's buyback authorization. With industry fundamentals improving, the bank expects SBAC to deliver AFFO growth of 15%-20% per year, better than peers, and it sees 15% share price upside. The price target is $136; SBAC finished today -1.4% to $115.62.
Jun. 29, 2015, 2:20 PM
- NBC (CMCSA -1.3%) is ending its business relationship with presidential candidate Donald Trump over "recent derogatory statements" about immigrants, it said in a statement.
- The move means that the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants (a JV between NBC and Trump) won't air on the network.
- Trump also won't participate in The Apprentice reality competition show.
- Univision had previously indicated that it wouldn't be broadcasting the pageants in the wake of Trump's remarks.
- Updated 3:59 p.m.: Trump says NBC's "contract-violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court. Furthermore, they will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won’t stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be.”
Jun. 29, 2015, 11:10 AM
- Jurassic World (CMCSA -0.9%) was again king at the box office, logging its third straight week at the top and becoming the fifth-highest grossing domestic release of all time.
- The picture with dino legs marked $54.2M, edging the $52.1M earned by Inside Out (DIS -0.7%), no slouch in its second week. Pixar's family film has $185M in cumulative domestic grosses.
- Thoughts of Ted 2 (NASDAQ:CMCSA) challenging those two with its debut went up in smoke as the film drew $32.9M, some $15M less than expected, and down from its predecessor Ted's $54M opening.
- Jurassic World crossed the $500M domestic-gross line in record time.
- Another debut, military-dog story Max (TWX -0.4%), drew $12.2M to finish fourth behind Ted 2.
Jun. 25, 2015, 10:15 PM
- Along with fiscal Q3 earnings, Canada's Shaw Communications (SJR +1%) revealed that in lieu of developing its own IPTV service, it's going to give a trial to X1 from Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) -- a big win for the U.S. cable giant as it tries to scale the platform following an unsuccessful bid for Time Warner Cable.
- That would make Shaw the second big provider to express interest in licensing X1, as Cox Communications gives it a hard look for its own next-generation video offering. Cox has pulled off a lab trial and would next test with its employees.
- Shaw will write down $55M of IPTV assets after scrapping its own plan. Comcast's X1 platform uses a cloud-based interface for its set-top boxes and mobiles for viewing.
- Shaw lost 24,524 cable subscribers this quarter, to end with 1.88M, and also offers satellite TV to about 851K subs.
- Last year, Shaw's Canadian peer Cogeco (OTC:CGEAF) scrapped its IPTV plan when it encountered "performance issues," and instead partnered with TiVo.
- Previously: Shaw up 1.5% following Q3 earnings where revenue grew (Jun. 25 2015)
Jun. 23, 2015, 2:26 PM
- And in news of re-bundling, Hulu says it's offering subscribers the chance to add in Showtime (NYSE:CBS).
- The move will come in early July in time for Showtime's big season-premiere period (Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex), around which Showtime is targeting its rollout of its over-the-top service.
- But it will cost Hulu subscribers $8.99/month -- that atop their existing $7.99/month for Hulu's paid service. It's an appealing price point in comparison to Showtime's stand-alone price ($10.99/month) and, notably, even its price through Time Warner Cable ($9.99/month).
- It's the first time that Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- has teamed up with a premium channel or other streaming service.
- For its part, Showtime adds Hulu to Apple, Sony and Roku as outlets for its stand-alone offering.
- Previously: Streaming Showtime coming to Roku, PlayStation Vue for July launch (Jun. 08 2015)
- Previously: CBS sets streaming Showtime offering for July launch on Apple devices (Jun. 03 2015)
Jun. 22, 2015, 10:46 AM
- Inside Out (NYSE:DIS) didn't lead the box office -- the first Pixar film not to do so in its debut weekend -- but there was plenty to go around for it and Jurassic World (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which led a big weekend at theaters for a second week, with $102M in receipts.
- Disney's animated exploration of emotions drew $91M (beyond high-end expectations) in a weekend of milestones. That total was the highest for an original (non-sequel or adaptation) film. Jurassic World became the first film to draw more than $100M in two separate weekends.
- The two didn't leave much oxygen for another debut, Open Road's Dope, which was fifth with $6M. Spy (FOX, FOXA) was third with $10.5M (cumulative domestic total: $74.4M) and San Andreas (NYSE:TWX) fourth with $8.2M (cumulative $132.2M).
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