Thu, Jan. 22, 11:04 AM
- AT&T (T -1.7%) and Sprint (S -2.5%) are joining Verizon in selling off (in spite of a market rally) after Big Red reported 2M Q4 postpaid net adds (including 672K phone adds), but also stated its wireless service revenue growth fell to 2.8% from Q3's 4.8% and that wireless EBITDA margin fell to 42% from 47% a year ago. Verizon also disclosed retail postpaid churn rose to 1.14% from 0.96% a year ago.
- Verizon's service growth, margin, and churn reflect both strong phone upgrade activity (due to iPhone 6 sales and phone upgrade plan adoption) and a U.S. mobile price war that isn't showing any signs of letting up as 2015 commences.
- Meanwhile, Verizon's Q4 postpaid adds, together with T-Mobile's strong Q4 adds, suggest AT&T may have joined Sprint in losing postpaid phone subscriber share during the quarter. Sprint has said it added 30K postpaid subs in calendar Q4 - postpaid phone adds were apparently still negative - and AT&T disclosed last month churn is trending higher in Q4.
- AT&T reports on Jan. 27, and Sprint on Feb. 5. Sprint jumped in the final minutes of trading yesterday on a report that Google is getting ready to sell phone plans on an MVNO basis while using Sprint and T-Mobile's networks.
Dec. 9, 2014, 9:48 AM
- With price pressure from rivals as intense has ever, Verizon has warned it expects to see "short-term pressure" on its wireless margins and EPS, and that retail postpaid disconnects are "trending higher" both Q/Q and Y/Y.
- AT&T (T -2.8%) and Sprint (S -2.3%) aren't responding well to the news; the S&P is down 0.9%. Sprint's moves under new CEO Marcelo Claure (launched in an attempt to stem ongoing postpaid share losses) appear to be contributing to Verizon's challenges. Big Red has been gaining postpaid share relative to AT&T and Sprint, though not T-Mobile.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -5.1%) is down sharply, but shares had already sold off before the Verizon news, thanks to T-Mobile's convertible offering announcement.
Nov. 24, 2014, 10:26 AM
- Citing higher spectrum and network investment costs, and the revenue impact of tougher price competition, Citi's Michael Rolling has downgraded Verizon (VZ -1.9%) to Neutral. AT&T (T -1.9%) is following Verizon lower.
- Rollins: "We believe the wireless industry is experiencing a great disconnect between the growth in data traffic and the growth in revenue ... We continue to fear that recent promotions create risk that the wireless industry at large may not be able to capture substantial incremental revenue from the rise in data consumption over time."
- Verizon has largely maintained its premium pricing in the face of major price cuts from T-Mobile and Sprint, but the carrier has been offering more data promos as of late. AT&T has been more willing to return fire, and has seen its wireless service growth revenue evaporate along the way.
- Last Friday: FCC auction bids hit $33B
Nov. 10, 2014, 3:33 PM
- After announcing in April it would launch an aggressively-priced in-flight Wi-Fi service "as soon as late 2015," AT&T (T +0.5%) has backtracked on its plans.
- Gogo (GOGO +9.2%), whose shares plunged in response to AT&T's original announcement, is taking the news quite well. Gogo was selling off earlier today in response to the company's Q3 report.
- AT&T's about-face comes after the carrier announced (along with the Iusacell acquisition) it would only be spending $18B on capex next year, down from $21B this year and below a prior forecast of $20B.
Oct. 22, 2014, 4:32 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) now expects full-year revenue to grow 3%-4% Y/Y, down from prior guidance of 5% but in-line with a 3.4% consensus.
- Wireless service revenue was down 0.2% Y/Y in Q3, an improvement from Q2's 1.4% drop but below Verizon's 4.8% growth. With equipment sales rising 44.3% thanks to strong Next smartphone upgrade plan adoption, wireless op. margin fell 180 bps to 24.6%.
- Wireless postpaid net adds totaled 785K, up from 363K a year ago (aided by tablet adds) but down from Q2's 1.03M; the postpaid base is at 75.1M.
- 140K prepaid subs were lost; 405K were lost in Q2, and 192K added a year ago. The prepaid base is at 11.2M. "Connected device" net adds totaled 1.275M, with 500K coming from cars; the connected device base is at 18.5M.
- Thanks to strong uptake for Mobile Share Value plans, phone-only postpaid ARPU fell 8% Y/Y. Postpaid churn fell 8 bps to 0.99%; total churn rose 5 bps to 1.36%.
- Wireline revenue (44% of total revenue) fell 0.4% Y/Y, and segment op. margin fell 180 bps to 8.8%. A 10.5% Y/Y drop in voice connections to 26.2M caused the decline.
- U-verse revenue rose 23.8% Y/Y, driving a 3% increase in residential wireline revenue. U-verse broadband and TV net adds respectively totaled 601K and 216K.
- $221M was spent on buybacks, up from Q2's $159M but well below some recent quarters. Free cash flow was $3.5B, above net income of $3B.
- T -1.8% AH. Q3 results, PR.
- Update: BTIG's Walter Piecyk estimates wireless service revenue growth was -4.2%, if one backs out the impact of the Leap Wireless acquisition.
Sep. 15, 2014, 2:39 PM
- America Movil (AMX +2.4%) has contacted potential suitors including AT&T (T +0.6%) and SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY, OTCPK:SFTBF), and perhaps BCE’s Bell Canada (BCE -0.1%) and China Mobile (CHL +1%), as it prepares to sell assets along the east coast of Mexico that could fetch as much as $17.5B, Bloomberg reports.
- AMX is selling assets in its biggest market to appease antitrust regulators; the Mexico-based carrier, which commands 70% of the local wireless market and 80% of landlines, may get penalties revoked if it cuts market share below 50%.
Jul. 31, 2014, 1:02 PM
- France's Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) is offering $15B in cash for a 56.6% stake in T-Mobile USA (TMUS +7.3%) at a price of $33/share. Iliad values the remaining 43.4% at $40.50/share. Sprint (S -5.3%) has been reported to be planning a ~$40/share deal.
- Iliad says it has obtained financing from unnamed banks, and would also do a capital raise to help pay for the deal. One issue: Iliad has a current market cap of just $16B, less than T-Mobile's $24.8B and Sprint's $30.6B. Sprint has reportedly lined up a $40B+ debt package to finance a T-Mobile deal.
- A source tells the WSJ Iliad, which has upended the French mobile market with its aggressive pricing, views a T-Mobile merger as a "one-time opportunity to enter the world's-largest telecoms market."
- Iliad also thinks (perhaps with good reason, given FCC/DOJ remarks) regulators will be more comfortable with its bid than Sprint's, since Iliad has no U.S. presence.
- AT&T (T -2%) and Verizon (VZ -2.3%) have joined Sprint in selling off, as investors mull the possibility of a deal that would leave the number of nationwide U.S. carriers at 4. Concerns about Iliad's pricing history might also be weighing on shares.
- Related tickers: OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCQX:DTEGY
- Earlier: Iliad reportedly bids for T-Mobile USA
Jul. 29, 2014, 12:14 PM
- "I’m skeptical it can be replicated," says Elevation LLC's Stephen Sweeney about Windstream's (WIN +12.9%) REIT spinoff plans. "It’s very unclear if other large cap companies can have their companies viewed by the IRS as real estate."
- UBS also has its doubts: It thinks AT&T (T +3.3%) and Verizon (VZ +1.8%) would have to open up their networks to rivals if they were spun off into REITs, something it doesn't think the carriers will be keen on doing.
- Oppenheimer's Tim Horan is more positive, albeit while cautioning Windstream's spinoff isn't a done deal. "If successful with this restructuring, and there are obviously high regulatory barriers, this will be a game changer for the valuation of non-REIT infrastructure stocks in our industry.”
- AT&T, Verizon, Windstream, Frontier (FTR +11.7%), and CenturyLink (CTL +4.2%) have pared their morning gains a bit amid volatile trading on very heavy volumes. AT&T has seen 66M shares trade vs. a daily average of 19.3M; Frontier has seen 89M trade vs. an average of 6.9M.
- Enthusiasm about Windstream's spinoff stems not only from the tax benefits provided to REITs - American Tower's tax expense has been halved since it converted into a REIT in 2012 - but also from the potential for spinoffs to spark new M&A activity.
- Windstream CFO Tony Thomas: "The REIT is going to be uniquely positioned to be in a great spot to help unlock value at other companies ... We have a good understanding of how the REIT opportunity could work in the telecom landscape."
- Earlier: Telcos soar following Windstream's REIT announcement
Jul. 29, 2014, 10:14 AM
- Windstream's (WIN +22.3%) plans to spin off some of its telecom network assets into a REIT (following a favorable IRS ruling) has lit a fire under U.S. telecom carriers, as investors bet more REIT announcements will happen. Some might also be hoping REIT spinoffs spark additional M&A activity in an industry that has seen plenty of it.
- Frontier (FTR +15.8%) and CenturyLink (CTL +8.1%) are also off to the races, and AT&T (T +3.9%), Verizon (VZ +1.9%), and Sprint (S +2%) aren't doing badly either.
- Other gainers include Alaska Communications (ALSK +5.2%), TDS (TDS +4.1%), and Lumos Networks (LMOS +5.5%), as well as Level 3 (LVLT +5.9%) and merger partner TW Telecom (TWTC +5.2%). Level 3 posted a Q2 beat this morning.
- Windstream's spinoff will feature its fiber/copper networks and other real estate. The company expects to retire $3.2B in debt following the spinoff (expected to close in Q1 2015), and to have the REIT raise $3.5B in debt.
- Windstream plans to have an aggregate annual dividend of $0.70/share following the spinoff ($0.60 for the REIT, $0.10 for Windstream proper). That's down from a current $1.00/share.
Jun. 27, 2014, 3:54 PM
- Carlos Slim plans to buy AT&T's (T +0.4%) 8.3% stake in America Movil (AMX +4.4%). After accounting for the spike in AMX shares that has followed the news, the stake is currently worth $6.4B.
- The stake includes 24% of AMX's voting shares; its purchase further solidifies Slim's hold over the giant Latin American carrier as it continues expanding into Europe.
- AT&T announced in May it would sell its AMX stake to keep regulators happy as it acquires DirecTV, whose Latin American reach is substantial and set to get bigger post-acquisition. The sale will also help Ma Bell pay for the DirecTV deal's $14.6B cash component.
Jun. 2, 2014, 4:43 PM
- Jefferies reports AT&T (T -0.1%) significantly cut its wireline capex starting last month.
- It thinks many companies could be affected, including equipment vendors Alcatel-Lucent (ALU -2.2%), Ciena (CIEN -3.9%), Juniper (JNPR +0.2%), and Adtran (ADTN -5.1%), and component vendors JDS Uniphase (JDSU -2%) and Finisar (FNSR -0.7%).
- As its is, AT&T's 2014 capex budget ($21B) is down $200M from 2013's spending level. Moreover, the carrier's huge mobile infrastructure needs and the DirecTV deal could be motivating it to cut wireline spend.
- Also: AT&T may be looking to keep capex down ahead of the full rollout of Domain 2.0, an initiative meant to improve network flexibility, lower costs, and cut provisioning times through the embrace of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).
- MKM has argued Domain 2.0 will be a negative for Cisco, but a positive for Ciena and Finisar, among others.
May 15, 2014, 1:56 PM
- The FCC has voted 3-2 to restrict how much spectrum AT&T (T +0.2%) and Verizon (VZ -0.2%) can buy in next year's huge low-frequency spectrum auctions.
- Sprint (S +3.4%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +1.9%) have both lobbied aggressively for restrictions to be placed on AT&T/Verizon, who between them have a huge share of low-frequency mobile spectrum (better for rural/in-building coverage).
- The decision shortly follows a similar vote in favor of chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality proposal - it doesn't prohibit pay-for-priority deals with content providers, but does seek comment on whether they should be banned, as well as on whether other neutrality regulations should be imposed.
- The FCC is also set to vote on a spectrum cap rule change for vetting mergers/acquisitions. Sprint and T-Mobile are hoping that one doesn't pass.
May 13, 2014, 11:00 AM
- Bloomberg and WSJ reports suggesting AT&T (T -1.3%) is close to a mega-deal for DirecTV (DTV +0.7%) (possibly worth over $66B after factoring net debt) are leading investors to bet Ma Bell won't be interested in making a bid for Vodafone (VOD -2.2%), something the company has been frequently rumored to be interested in exploring.
- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has already said "the window may be closing" on acquiring European assets, and has suggested he isn't thrilled with Vodafone's efforts to grow its wireline footprint via M&A.
- For his part, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has hinted he's open to a deal, but has also made it clear his company will continue its wireline expansion strategy in the interim.
- AT&T, which didn't sell off following prior DirecTV reports, is off moderately today, as the Street expresses some concern over the potential $100/share price tag mentioned in Bloomberg's report.
- DirecTV (DTV +0.7%), meanwhile, has pared its AH gains and is now only trading near $88. Worries about regulatory approval might be playing a role; a Bloomberg source states AT&T and DirecTV are expecting a 12-month regulatory process for the deal.
May 12, 2014, 5:10 PM
- Bloomberg reports AT&T (T) is in "advanced talks" to acquire DirecTV (DTV) for ~$100/share - a 15% premium to DirecTV's Monday close, and a 29% premium to where shares traded before the WSJ's May 1 report about deal talks.
- The acquisition price values DirecTV at $51B, or over $66B after factoring net debt.
- Bloomberg adds that under discussed plans, DirecTV CEO Mike White plans to retire after 2015.
- DTV now +5.6% AH to $92.
- Earlier: AT&T/DirecTV deal could reportedly be announced in two weeks
May 7, 2014, 4:09 PM
May 1, 2014, 8:01 AM
- Thanks to aggressive pricing and a slew of promotions, T-Mobile (TMUS) added 1.3M branded postpaid subs (1.2M phone subs), 465K branded prepaid subs, and 600K non-branded subs in Q1. The branded postpaid figure dwarfs Verizon's (VZ) 539K and AT&T's (T) 625K - the difference in phone adds is even larger - and compares with a net loss of 333K for would-be suitor Sprint (S).
- Regulators mulling a Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up are doubtlessly paying attention, and the same goes for AT&T and Verizon: The former has responded more aggressively to T-Mobile's price cuts thus far than the latter.
- Thanks to the strong Q1 numbers, which come after T-Mobile added 1.645M total subs (869K branded postpaid) in Q4, the carrier now expects 2.8M-3.3M branded postpaid net adds in 2014, up from a prior 2M-3M. Cash capex is still expected to be in a range of $4.3B-$4.6B.
- At the same time, T-Mobile's strategy continues taking a near-term toll on its bottom line: Adjusted EBITDA fell 26% Y/Y to $1.09B, and T-Mobile has cut its full-year adjusted EBITDA guidance to $5.6B-$5.8B from $5.7B-$6B. Adjusted EBITDA margin fell 400 bps Q/Q to 20%.
- Service revenue rose 4.5% Y/Y to $5.34B. Branded postpaid churn fell 20 bps Q/Q and 40 bps Y/Y to 1.5% (a new record). ARPU fell $0.69 Q/Q to $50.01. "Simple free cash flow" (adjusted EBITDA - cash capex) was $141M, down from $357M in Q4 and $239M a year ago.
- TMUS +7.6% thanks to the sub adds and a Bloomberg report stating Sprint has lined up financing for a bid. Sprint +6.2%. T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) is up 2.9% in Frankfurt.
AT&T Inc, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States and internationally. The Company has three reportable segments: Wireless, Wireline, and Other.
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