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Jun. 4, 2014, 5:56 PM
- Bloomberg reports Sprint (S) and T-Mobile USA (TMUS) are near an agreement for a deal that would value T-Mobile at ~$40/share. The WSJ is also reporting a ~$40/share price.
- S +3.7% AH. TMUS +3.2% to $36.02 - a price that points to ongoing regulatory worries.
- Sprint's offer will reportedly feature a 50-50 cash/stock split, and leave Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY), which currently owns 67% of T-Mobile, with a 15% stake in the combined company. Bloomberg's sources state an announcement could happen by July.
- In addition, the carriers are reportedly close to agreeing on a breakup fee - Sprint and parent SoftBank (SFTBF) have reportedly been pushing for a smaller breakup fee for a deal that's bound to face tough DOJ/FCC scrutiny; T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom have wanted a bigger one.
- More on Sprint/T-Mobile
Jun. 3, 2014, 4:07 PM
- Verizon (VZ -1.5%), Sprint (S -2.2%), and T-Mobile (TMUS -1%) have each closed lower after AT&T guided for no Q2 wireless service revenue growth, and a weak wireless service EBITDA margin.
- Investors have already been nervous about the impact a T-Mobile-driven price war stands to have on the top and bottom lines of rivals. AT&T mentioned adoption of its Mobile Share Value plans, which saw price cuts after T-Mobile announced a series of aggressive moves, are pressuring its ARPU.
- Verizon, though offering some modest promotions, has generally stuck to a premium pricing strategy; its disappointing Q1 postpaid subscriber adds - 539K net adds with an estimated 95K decline for phones - fueled questions about whether a strategy change is needed. The fact AT&T expects to add 800K+ postpaid subs in Q2 might heighten those concerns.
- Sprint has been more aggressive than Verizon, launching its low-cost Framily plans in January and heavily promoting them. But it lost 231K postpaid subs in Q1 as it scrambles to neutralize Verizon/AT&T's 4G coverage leads.
- One encouraging AT&T datapoint: The carrier expects ~2/3 of postpaid smartphone subs to be on subsidy-free Mobile Share Value plans by year's end. Both AT&T and peers have made slashing subsidy spend a priority.
May 29, 2014, 9:12 AM
- Japan's Kyodo news agency reports Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) has signed off on a SoftBank (SFTBF)/Sprint (S) bid to acquire its 67% stake in T-Mobile USA (TMUS).
- DT has previously suggested it's open to a deal as SoftBank/Sprint worked to line up financing - in addition to T-Mobile's equity, a deal has to account for $8.7B in net debt.
- But all signs suggest regulators remain wary of a tie-up lowering the number of nationwide U.S. mobile carriers to three, in spite of Masayoshi Son's relentless PR efforts.
- TMUS +1.6% premarket. S +2.5%.
May 29, 2014, 4:15 AM
- Sprint (S) Chairman Masayoshi Son reasons that the rise in telecom and cable mergers should allow his company to buy rival T-Mobile (TMUS). Three big mergers have taken place in recent months with Verizon (VZ) acquiring Vodafone (VOD) for $130B, Comcast (CMCSA) buying Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $45B, and the AT&T (T) purchase of DirecTV (DTV) for $49B.
- "Access to the Internet is currently dominated by three giants with no sizable competitor," says Son.
- Although the company has not yet made a formal bid on T-Mobile, it looks to lay the framework for a future purchase.
- Antitrust authorities have previously frowned on such a deal, as it would cut the number of national competitors in the wireless industry to three from four.
May 19, 2014, 2:35 PM
- Sources tell dealReporter Verizon (VZ +0.1%) has held talks with Dish (DISH -0.3%). Dish shares are near breakeven after trading lower much of the day in response to the AT&T/DirecTV deal.
- AT&T/DirecTV has fueled speculation Verizon could counter with an offer for Dish, which owns a large chunk of high-frequency spectrum that could be used to offer 4G services. But there has also been a fair amount of skepticism, particularly given Verizon just spent $130B to buy Vodafone's Verizon Wireless stake.
- Analyst Craig Moffett: "Dish Network has just been left standing ... That Verizon might be a buyer is more wishful thinking than it is analysis." Wells Fargo thinks Verizon might bid for Dish's spectrum, but not the whole company.
- The deal has also renewed speculation Dish will try to merge with T-Mobile (TMUS +2.1%), which could face tough regulatory opposition to a merger with Sprint.
- Reuters reported in December Dish is weighing an offer for the #4 U.S. carrier, and Charlie Ergen has said a deal is a possibility.
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 15, 2014, 3:30 AM
- Sprint's (S) pursuit of T-Mobile (TMUS) could receive unexpected support from Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission.
- Rosenworcel has privately said that the carriers might not be able to remain viable if they stay independent, the WSJ reports.
- However, while the two GOP commissioners are seen as more likely to back a deal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Justice Department are not so keen due to concerns about the impact on competition.
May 11, 2014, 2:09 AM
- Deutsche Telekom (DTEGF) wants Sprint (S) to agree to a breakup fee of over $1B in the event that regulators block the latter's possible acquisition of T-Mobile US (TMUS), the WSJ reports.
- The German carrier also wants Sprint to pledge to keep the T-Mobile brand and some of its management.
- Deutsche Telekom's demands come after regulators implied they would view any Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up skeptically. Three years ago, Deutsche received $3B when authorities blocked the sale of T-Mobile to AT&T.
- The sides are working on forging a deal in the near term, but could wait until after a government auction of wireless airwaves - which is expected in 2015 - or under a different White House administration.
- The operators might have a bit more clarity next week, when the FCC is due to decide on how much spectrum carriers can hold and the rules for the spectrum auction.
May 1, 2014, 9:13 AM
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.
May 1, 2014, 6:30 AM
- T-Mobile US (TMUS): Q1 Net loss of -$151M
- Revenue of $6.87B (+15.3% Y/Y) misses by $50M.
Apr. 30, 2014, 6:03 PM
- Bloomberg reports Sprint (S) "plans to push forward" with a T-Mobile USA (TMUS) bid after lining up financing from six banks.
- SoftBank's (SFTBF) Masayoshi Son is expected to "make a formal bid in June or July," according to one source. SoftBank is still reportedly talking to T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (DTEGF) about who would run the post-merger company; outspoken T-Mobile chief John Legere is the top candidate.
- While past reports have suggested financing will be available - Sprint is expected to absorb T-Mobile's $8.7B in net debt in the event of a deal - DOJ officials are apparently quite skeptical about the merits of a deal to merge the #3 and #4 U.S. mobile carriers.
- Son has previously argued he would launch a massive price war if a Sprint/T-Mobile deal was cleared, and would also offer competitive home broadband services (could be easier said than done in high-density urban areas).
- Sprint announced yesterday it lost 333K postpaid subs in Q1. T-Mobile, which reports tomorrow, has been faring better lately.
Apr. 30, 2014, 5:40 PM
Apr. 28, 2014, 12:40 PM
- The FCC plans to add 128.5MHz. of spectrum to its screening procedures for vetting mergers and spectrum sales. Sprint (S -4.1%) owns 101MHz. of the spectrum, via its acquisition of Clearwire and its valuable 2.5GHz. band spectrum (good for urban areas).
- The rule change, due for a May 15 vote, relates to the FCC's scrutiny of deals that give a carrier more than 1/3 of all spectrum in a particular market. Sprint will exceed that threshold in most big markets once the change goes through.
- Though Sprint won't be forced to sell spectrum in those markets, it could have a much harder time adding to its spectrum position within them via M&A - say, through a merger with T-Mobile USA (TMUS -3.6%).
- Separately, the FCC plans to provide tougher scrutiny of deals that would lead to a single carrier having over 1/3 of all quality low-frequency (sub-1GHz., better for buildings and rural areas) spectrum in a market, and to limit how much a carrier with such a spectrum position can bid in 2015's anticipated low-frequency auctions.
- AT&T (T +1.3%) and Verizon (VZ +1.5%), which together control a giant share of low-frequency U.S. mobile spectrum, are the companies targeted by those proposals. Sprint, T-Mobile, and other rivals have been pressuring the FCC to limit how much spectrum AT&T and Verizon can buy in the 2015 auction.
Apr. 24, 2014, 10:10 AM
- Verizon (VZ -2%) had only 539K wireless postpaid net adds in Q1 (549K total), down from 677K a year ago (720K total) and for once below AT&T's quarterly postpaid figure of 625K. Also, retail churn rose 7 bps Y/Y to 1.37%, and retail postpaid churn 6 bps to 1.07%.
- Those figures raise the question of whether Verizon's commitment to a premium pricing strategy in the face of a T-Mobile-launched price war is impacting subscriber adds.
- Nonetheless, wireless service revenue grew 7.5% Y/Y, nearly even with Q4's 8% and much better than AT&T's 2.2%. Wireless op. margin rose 210 bps to 35%, and retail postpaid ARPA 6.3% to $159.67. Verizon ended Q1 with 103.3M retail connections (97.3M postpaid).
- Wireline revenue fell 0.4%, as 4.4% and 6.4% declines in enterprise and wholesale revenue (caused in part by voice weakness) offset a 6.2% increase in consumer retail (driven by 15.5% FiOS growth). Wireline op. margin rose 10 bps to 1.5%.
- 98K and 57K FiOS Internet and TV subs were respectively added, down from 126K and 96K in Q4. Total broadband connections (FiOS or otherwise) rose 1.5% to 9M.
- Q1 free cash flow was $3.93B, below net income of $5.99B but above illustrative net income of $3.8B. Verizon is still expecting 4% 2014 revenue and EBITDA growth. Its dividend yield stands at 4.6%.
- Sprint (S -3.2%) and T-Mobile (TMUS -2%) are following Verizon lower. They fell yesterday in the wake of AT&T's report. Sprint reports on April 29
- Q1 results, PR,
Apr. 23, 2014, 12:46 PM
- Though investors aren't thrilled with AT&T's (T -3.3%) Q1 wireless numbers, Wells Fargo (Outperform) calls them "big time solid." The firm notes net adds and churn were better-than-expected, and thinks Q1 results suggest the telco's 2014 guidance is "quite achievable."
- Morgan Stanley (Equal-Weight) is less charitable: It estimates 500K of AT&T's 625K postpaid net adds came from tablets, and notes cheaper Mobile Share plans - launched following intense price competition and promotional efforts from T-Mobile (TMUS -3%) - led wireless service revenue growth to fall.
- Canaccord observes strong uptake for Next upgrade plans boosted subscriber adds, but expects the trend to moderate. The firm has cut its 2014 EPS estimate to $2.69 from $2.78 (consensus is at $2.71).
- On the CC (transcript), management talked up the ability of Next adoption to lower subsidy expenses, and mentioned U-verse revenue is now on a ~$14B/year run rate.
- Strong U-verse growth has narrowed AT&T's wireline revenue declines, albeit while pressuring margins. The company promises wireline margins (-110 bps in Q1 to 10%) will improve in 2016.
T-Mobile US Inc provides wireless communication services in the postpaid, prepaid, and wholesale markets. The Company's products and services include voice, messaging, data services, wireless devices, smartphones and other mobile communication devices.
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