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Tue, Feb. 2, 3:24 PM
- Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) shares have jumped on news from Dow Jones that Yahoo will say it's exploring "strategic alternatives" in its aftermarket earnings commentary today.
- Shares were down as much as 4.9% and have leapt to just a 0.4% decline.
- It's the strongest indication yet that the company will consider a sale of all or part of its Web business.
- The board has a fiduciary duty to listen to offers, which could come from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) or from private-equity firms that have expressed interest in parts of the business.
- Sales have fallen at Yahoo in seven of the past 10 quarters.
Fri, Jan. 22, 3:53 PM
- Verizon (VZ +2.6%) and Hearst are discussing a team effort to go after new audiences for the wireless carrier's Go90 mobile video service, including an underserved heartland demographic.
- The two are in advanced talks on a joint venture to develop two digital media brands, which could include a politics-focused comedy network, and another targeted at millennials and referred to by a source as "Vice for the red states."
- Vice Media is already launching its own 24-hour channel this spring, Viceland, and has a presence on Go90 with long-form reporting ranging from lifestyles to war coverage.
- Print stalwart Hearst has been making its own moves into Web video, where ad rates are much higher than banner ads for its magazine/newspaper sites. It also has a 25% stake in DreamWorks Animation's AwesomenessTV, also on Go90.
- Previously: Verizon, Sony to partner on video content slate for Go90 (Jan. 06 2016)
- Previously: FT: Disney puts additional $200M into Vice, bringing stake to 10% (Dec. 08 2015)
- Previously: A&E/Vice Media 24-hour channel Viceland to debut in early 2016 (Nov. 03 2015)
Wed, Jan. 20, 11:10 AM
- AOL (VZ -1.7%) has taken on a strategic partnership with Taboola -- the content discovery platform that recommends new story links for website visitors -- and plans to take an equity stake.
- The deal will integrate Taboola across all of AOL's premium brands, including AOL.com, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MapQuest and others.
- The partnership involves desktop, tablet, mobile Web and mobile apps and the two will pursue shared data initiatives to improve user insight.
Fri, Jan. 15, 5:32 PM
- Sprint (S -9.9%) has a "radical" plan to overhaul its cell network that could save up to $1B -- but might result in hiccups along the way.
- The carrier plans to relocate radio equipment from towers leased from private companies, namely Crown Castle (CCI -5.8%) and American Tower (AMT -4.2%), onto cheaper properties owned by the government, Re/code reports.
- It's also hoping to reduce its dependency on backhaul from AT&T (T -0.9%) and Verizon (VZ -1%) by using microwave technology a la Clearwire instead. The company cuts annual checks of $1B for backhaul to the two rivals.
- One source says the company's "Next Generation Network" will result in a new wave of disruptions and could end up with less coverage in regions where Sprint has few subscribers: “Getting there is going to be a nightmare ... It’s going to be very, very disruptive.”
- Sprint will lease towers from privately held Mobilitie, which will locate where possible on government-owned ROW.
- “Sprint’s plan is not for the faint of heart,” Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche writes in a note. “Sprint needs to be solely focused on avoiding mistakes of the past, where network overhauls caused major disruptions in the network’s performance.”
Wed, Jan. 6, 5:19 PM
- Verizon (VZ -0.9%) and Sony Music (SNE -7.2%) are teaming on a video partnership for Verizon's Go90, adding a number of original shows and musical performances to the burgeoning mobile streaming service.
- Along with special live music events, the two plan to launch shows this year including Crashed, a hidden-camera comedy where fans are greeted by celebrities, and Car Star, a competition series focused on (surprise) singing in the car.
- Musical tie-ins will include a multi-night concert series showcasing Sony Music's artists. The deal also covers some previously announced programming arrangements between Go90 and Astronauts Wanted, a joint venture between Sony Music and MTV ex Judy McGrath.
Dec. 31, 2015, 5:13 PM
- T-Mobile (TMUS -1.6%) ended the year as the big winner among the U.S. wireless big four, finishing up 45% for 2015. AT&T was the only other to gain, and was up 2.4% for the year.
- Looking ahead, T-Mobile is already hoping to make a splash in the FCC's broadcast incentive auction of wireless airwaves, with CEO John Legere looking to be a "winner."
- "The lowband spectrum auctions will be the most important in recent U.S. history and will shape the future of the wireless industry for decades to come," Legere writes. "I predict that T-Mobile will walk away a winner."
- AT&T (T -1%) and Verizon (VZ -1.2%) will have more money to spend in the auction, but likely less interest, as both built their LTE networks on "beachfront" 700 MHz spectrum.
- Wells Fargo, though, has predicted that AT&T will spend the most (along with Verizon spending the least) in the sale. Sprint (S -0.3%; down 12.8% this year) has said it will sit it out.
Dec. 15, 2015, 1:06 PM
- CenturyLink (CTL +3.5%) -- and to a lesser extent, Frontier Communications (FTR -0.4%), Verizon (VZ +0.6%) and AT&T (T +0.8%) -- could see upside with Congress looking at renewing a capex tax break for industries including telecommunications.
- UBS analyst John Hodulik sees legislators pursuing a retroactive 2015 extension of bonus depreciation, which lets companies deduct half the cost of some capital equipment purchases immediately, and which would boost free cash flow. Legislators could also extend the deal into 2016 or beyond as well.
- "We believe CenturyLink would be the largest beneficiary" of that extension, Hodulik says, with free cash flow rising 44% after its tax bill drops from an expected $1B to around $350M.
- Other companies would benefit as well: Frontier's free cash flow would rise about 19%, while AT&T and Verizon could see gains of 11% each if the break gets a retroactive extension.
Dec. 14, 2015, 5:41 PM
Dec. 3, 2015, 8:04 PM
- Another week brought more promotions (at least in holiday shopping season) for U.S. wireless carriers fighting for customers.
- Verizon (VZ -0.8%) today offered 2 GB of bonus data for new phones added or upgraded on its larger data buckets (XL or XXL, in the company's clothing-size parlance). The deal is good just through Jan. 6.
- The data's shareable with devices on the plan, but tablets/connected devices alone aren't eligible to be added/upgraded for the deal.
- Meanwhile, T-Mobile's (TMUS -3.3%) target of the day is AT&T (T -1.4%); it's offering those customers an iPhone bargain (128 GB model for the price of the 16 GB model) and half off financed in-store accessories (focused on speakers, headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers).
- T-Mobile says the iPhone deal represents a $200 value, given back via bill credit. Its deal is available Dec. 4 through Dec. 13.
Dec. 2, 2015, 3:42 PM
- It won't be the most surprising development, but Moody's is forecasting that wireless price wars will prevent real expansion in industry margins in the coming year.
- The firm estimates revenues (including equipment) to grow 3-4% overall, but that EBITDA margins will expand about 1%.
- In a bid to steal customers from the top two -- AT&T (T -0.4%) and Verizon (VZ -1.4%) -- Sprint (S -2.1%) and T-Mobile (TMUS -0.9%) have been pushing aggressive promotions, from Sprint resurrecting a "cut your bill in half" idea to T-Mobile dangling $200 in front of Sprint switchers.
- AT&T won't be chasing customers this season, says Jefferies' Mike McCormack -- the company believes the subscriber base it's losing is coming from "mostly lower-value postpaid subscribers and prepaid," he says.
Nov. 25, 2015, 7:23 PM
- Wells Fargo has picked its winners in March's FCC broadcast incentive auction for wireless spectrum -- and it figures AT&T (T +0.2%) will dominate bidding that should total $30B-$35B.
- Analysts at the bank predict up to $10B spending coming from the telecom giant for a nationwide block of 2x10 MHz airwaves.
- T-Mobile (TMUS -3.7%) -- which has been signaling aggressive moves in the auction -- will be second, with $8B spent, the analysts said, while Verizon (VZ -0.6%) should be last with $5B in bids. Sprint (S -1.8%) has already said it's sitting this one out.
- While AT&T backtracked a bit on pledges to spend $9B while it was digesting DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), the analysts think the benefits of a nationwide block may signal higher spending from the company.
- Verizon, meanwhile, has credit to spend up to $10B, but probably won't: "Similar to what T has said publicly and based on our conversations with spectrum experts, we look for VZ to contribute in a meaningful way if 2x10MHz bands are made available."
- Previously: T-Mobile -2.2% as it pledges $200 for each Sprint line that switches (Nov. 25 2015)
- Previously: SoftBank spending: Arora on investment universe, Sprint worries (Nov. 24 2015)
Nov. 13, 2015, 6:49 PM
- Along with a price hike for its unlimited wireless phone plans on Sunday, Verizon (VZ -1.3%) is bringing back activation fees, instituting a $20 charge for new lines of service.
- The carrier had waived the fees just a few months ago when it abandoned phone subsidies and service contracts; they were $40 at the time for customers who signed two-year deals.
- AT&T (T -1.1%) charges a $15 fee for devices sold through its installment program, or $45 for a two-year contract or purchased device.
- Verizon is raising the price of its unlimited data plan by $20/month on Sunday, a move in line with recent ones by its competitors. Sprint (S +0.7%) raised its own unlimited data plan by $10/month at the end of September.
- At least Verizon waited until after T-Mobile's (TMUS +2%) "Un-carrier X" event to drop the news; T-Mo's John Legere is fond of lambasting competitors for broad line activation charges, though every carrier has one somewhere.
Nov. 6, 2015, 1:14 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) shares that were off as much as 2% are rebounding, now down just 1.1%, as Reuters reports that the carrier is exploring a sale of enterprise assets worth up to $10B.
- The move would be a refocus on core business, unloading its data center unit Terremark as well as the former MCI, which provides wireline/Internet for large business customers. Verizon had acquired MCI for $8.4B in 2006.
- Those businesses are suffering in comparison with more nimble cloud competitors amid heavy price competition.
- Citigroup is advising Verizon on a possible sale and CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) was a bidder earlier this year, sources said. Verizon had prevailed over Qwest (now part of CenturyLink) in the battle to acquire MCI.
Oct. 16, 2015, 5:07 PM
- The FCC is probing four companies -- AT&T (T +1%), Verizon (VZ +0.1%), CenturyLink (CTL -0.7%) and Frontier Communications (FTR -1.9%) -- over terms they set for business broadband, the dedicated mission-critical lines that make everything from schools to ATMs work.
- That's a $20B market, and competitors including Sprint (NYSE:S), Level 3 (NYSE:LVLT) and Cogent (NASDAQ:CCOI), along with Amazon.com and others, are complaining about unfair lock-ups with large early termination fees.
- The FCC has found "potentially unjust and unreasonable practices" that rise to the level of an investigation. It says the four companies it's probing use plans with “a complicated web of all-or-nothing bundling, loyalty and term commitments, complex enforcing penalties” and other provisions, and asked them to respond by Dec. 18.
- In a mailed statement, industry group USTelecom (of which the four companies are members) says the investigation is a "rear-view mirror" approach. “Although the FCC says that it wants to be a data-driven agency, promote facilities-based competition, and incent broadband investment, it just can’t seem to get beyond its telephone-era mindset when it comes to regulating 20th century legacy services," says USTelecom President Walter McCormick.
Oct. 16, 2015, 10:33 AM
- A review of U.S. wireless operators has Nomura making AT&T (T +0.9%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.1%) its top picks, with a more subdued outlook on Verizon (VZ, flat) and Sprint (S -1.1%).
- The firm has Buy ratings on T and TMUS, and is Neutral on VZ and S.
- The companies' reactions to a modest growth future vary widely, says Jeffrey Kvaal. Verizon and AT&T are taking two radically different paths into video, while Sprint and T-Mobile go after share gain -- helped by the fact that the incumbents are unlikely to lower their prices.
- DirecTV synergies should more than offset some share loss at AT&T, and the firm faces modest video subscriber erosion, he says. Meanwhile, T-Mobile should be able to maintain share gains and EBITDA expansion with its aggressive approach.
- As for Verizon, "visibility beyond a sideways 2016 is limited," and Sprint continues to face a balance sheet strain though its improving network and pricing models have put it "on the brink of a true revival story."
- Price targets: For AT&T, $39 (closed yesterday at $33.49, 16.5% implied upside); for T-Mobile, $48 (closed yesterday at $39.94, 20% implied upside); for Verizon, $47 (closed yesterday at $44.67, 5% implied upside); for Sprint, $4 (closed yesterday at $4.27).
Oct. 14, 2015, 3:04 PM
- T-Mobile (TMUS -1.6%) has brought back its 10 GB four-line family plan in what may be a harbinger of the wireless war heating up for the holidays.
- The plan -- $120/month for four lines, 10 GB of data -- is reminiscent of more aggressive plans ended this summer, from Verizon ($80 for 10 GB) and T-Mobile ($100 for 10 GB).
- Quieter AT&T (T -0.2%), meanwhile, "seems to be taking a more passive strategy, with a distinct focus on subscriber retention, ARPU (average revenue per user) preservation and setting the stage for growth and cross leverage opportunities as it integrates the DirecTV asset," says Barclays' Amir Rozwadowski.
- Including tablets, Rozwadowski is forecasting that Verizon (VZ -0.7%) will add 1.15M postpaid subscribers this quarter, followed by T-Mobile (1.07M), AT&T (300K) and Sprint (S -2.9%) with 270K.
- Verizon is first up among quarterly reporters next Tuesday.
Verizon Communications Inc is a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. Its two segments are Wireless and Wireline.
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