Wed, Aug. 27, 3:53 PM
Fri, Aug. 15, 12:19 PM
- David Einhorn took some Apple (AAPL -0.4%) profits in Q2: Greenlight Capital owned 9.4M Apple shares at the end of June, down from a split-adjusted 14M at the end of March.
- On the other hand, Leon Cooperman's Omega Advisors bought 1.3M shares during the quarter; Cooperman had bailed out of Apple in Q3 of last year. Adjusted for the split, Carl Icahn's position is roughly steady at 52.8M shares.
- IDC estimates the iPhone accounted for 11.7% of Q2 smartphone units, down from 13% a year ago. Android's (NASDAQ:GOOG) share rose to 84.7% from 79.6%, and industry shipments grew an estimated 25.3% (down slightly from Q1's 28.6%) to 301.3M.
- At the same time, IDC notes over 80% of iPhone shipments ($561 Q2 ASP) involved a $400+ unsubsidized price, with the remainder in the $200-$400 range. Nearly 60% of Android shipments involved sub-$200 phones, with the remainder split almost evenly between $200-$400 and $400+ devices.
- Following government pressure, China Mobile has cut its 2014 phone subsidy budget to $3.4B from a prior $5.5B. With the carrier having spent $2.5B on subsidies in 1H14, its fall iPhone 6 subsidies will likely be light.
- Meanwhile, Apple has begun storing some of its iCloud data for Chinese users on local servers provided by China Telecom (CHA -0.3%). Apple insists the move, which comes amid ongoing NSA-related tensions, was partly made to improve local iCloud performance/reliability.
Wed, Jul. 16, 12:35 AM
- VMware (NYSE:VMW) is forming a JV with SoftBank (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) to offer its vCloud Hybrid cloud infrastructure (IaaS) service in Japan. VMware will build and run the service, and SoftBank will provide the data centers and network it runs on. Both companies will offer the service through their sales channels.
- Over in China, VMware is partnering with China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) to offer vCloud Hybrid. In this case, China Telecom will operate the service, and VMware will simply provide the underlying software. The arrangement could appeal to Chinese firms hesitant to use a public cloud run by a U.S. company (say, Amazon) following the NSA uproar.
- Until now, vCloud Hybrid (launched in 2013) was only available at U.S. and U.K. sites. The service has won praise for the way it lets users jointly manage and quickly migrate public and private cloud workloads, but it continues facing tough competition from Amazon, Microsoft (the hybrid cloud leader), Google, IBM, and Rackspace, among others.
- Separately, parent EMC's RSA unit has bought technology assets from Symplified, a provider of cloud identity management services that enable single sign-on and automatic user provisioning for a variety of cloud apps/services. Symplified is shutting down its operations.
- EMC/RSA says it will add Symplified's IP to its Identity solutions portfolio. The purchase follows RSA's 2013 acquisition of Aveksa, a provider of tools for managing access to corporate apps and data.
- VMware reports on July 22, and EMC the following morning.
Tue, Jul. 8, 12:16 PM
- The Chinese government has told China Mobile (CHL -0.4%), China Unicom (CHU +1.3%), and China Telecom (CHA -0.3%) to slash phone subsidies and advertising by a combined RMB40B ($6.4B) in 3 years, Bloomberg reports.
- The government came to its decision after concluding carriers are spending too much to promote the iPhone (AAPL -1.8%) and other high-end hardware. While a large chunk of Chinese phone sales are unsubsidized, subsidies have been growing as carriers try to sign up higher-income subs to 3G/4G postpaid plans.
- A possible motivation: Apple and Samsung control much of the high-end Chinese phone market, while local firms (both OEM and white-label) control much of the mid-range and low-end.
- China Mobile, which began selling the iPhone in January, has forecast its subsidy spend will rise 29% in 2014 to RMB29B ($4.7B). China Telecom says it has already been "implementing stringent control on [its] selling expenses to ensure operating profitability.”
- UBS, generally upbeat about Apple this year, thinks subsidy cuts and Samsung price cuts could slow Apple's Chinese momentum. The company's Greater China sales rose 13% Y/Y in FQ2 to $9.3B.
- The Bloomberg report comes as Samsung says it expects to report soft Q2 smartphone/tablet sales. Among other things, the company blames tough low-end/mid-range phone competition, and weak tablet market demand caused by phablet cannibalization and low upgrade rates. CIRP has observed iPad upgrade cycles are notably longer than iPhone upgrade cycles.
Fri, May. 23, 4:04 PM
- The recent rally in shares of Chinese carriers isn't justified given their earnings are likely to decline over the next 2-3 years, says HSBC's Tucker Grinnan, cutting shares of all three to Underweight. China Mobile (CHL -1%), China Telecom (CHA -1.5%), and China Unicom (CHU -1.3%) have slipped in response.
- Grinnan's downgrade comes shortly after CHL, just given more freedom (along with peers) to set its own prices, announced plans to cut 4G data prices by up to 50%, and to also slash 2G/3G data prices.
- Goldman upgraded CHL and downgraded CHA on Monday. China's carriers are expected to benefit from tower-sharing deals that will lower capex, but also have a list of challenges that includes SMS traffic declines, rising phone subsidies, and the pending arrival of MVNO competition.
Mon, May. 19, 12:53 PM
- Goldman's Donald Lu has upgraded China Mobile (CHL +1.9%) to Conviction Buy, and simultaneously downgraded rival China Telecom (CHA -2.7%) to Neutral.
- Lu thinks 3G/4G adoption will boost CHL's data ARPU, and help reverse the decline in its total ARPU in 2015. He adds the arrival of cheaper 4G smartphones (eventually reaching $100 unsubsidized price points) and potentially strong iPhone 6 demand will act as catalysts.
- As for China Telecom, Lu believes a decent amount of good news, including steady earnings growth (wireline-driven) and a tower-sharing deal (will lower capex) has been priced in. He's also worried about possible share loss to CHL as the latter's 4G subscriber base grows.
- Previous: Chinese carriers allowed to set their own prices
Fri, May. 9, 5:21 PM
- Starting tomorrow, China's state-run carriers - China Mobile (CHL), China Unicom (CHU), and China Telecom (CHA) - will be able to set their own service prices without having to first clear them with the government (as has been the case thus far). The policy change covers voice, text, and broadband services.
- Nonetheless, the carriers will still be prohibited from offering "excessive" discounts. The regulatory change is part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to let market forces determine prices.
- It follows two moves from regulators that could pressure the carriers' bottom lines: The imposition of a telecom VAT, and the issuing of MVNO licenses to Alibaba and ten other firms.
Wed, Mar. 5, 6:06 PM
- After growing ~60% in 2013 (and fueling global shipment growth of 39%), IDC expects Chinese smartphone shipment growth to slow to ~20% in 2014 and just ~10% in 2015.
- Though only 40% of China's 1B+ mobile users now use a smartphone, IDC's Kiranjeet Kaur notes most users who can comfortably afford a smartphone have already bought one. Plunging low-end Android prices could expand the addressable market in a country whose nominal per capita GDP is around $6K.
- India, which has a sub-10% smartphone penetration rate, still presents a major growth opportunity. But with a nominal per capita GDP of ~$1,500, the country is even more cost-sensitive than China.
- With China slowing down and developed markets living up to their name, IDC expects global smartphone growth to slow to 19% in 2014; that still spells total volumes of 1.2B. Tough competition and the ongoing mix shift towards emerging markets is expected to lead the industry's ASP to fall $27 to $308.
- Smartphone OEMs with strong Chinese exposure: AAPL, SSNLF, LNVGY, ZTCOY
- Chip suppliers: QCOM, BRCM, CRUS, SWKS, RFMD, MRVL
- Chinese carriers: CHL, CHU, CHA
Wed, Mar. 5, 9:19 AM
- The imposition of a value-added tax (VAT) , part of a broader tax reform push by the Chinese government, is expected to hurt the bottom lines of China Mobile (CHL), China Unicom (CHU), and China Telecom (CHA).
- The announcement comes less than three months after the government issued MVNO licenses to 11 companies (inc. Alibaba) looking to offer mobile services using the networks of incumbents, and at a time when voice/SMS revenue streams are already being pressured by mobile messaging apps (most notably Tencent's WeChat).
- Bernstein's Chris Lane thinks China Mobile's net profit could be hurt by 7%, and Unicom and Telecom's net profit by 25%, assuming an 11% VAT replaces a current 3% business tax.
Fri, Jan. 17, 4:59 AM
- Apple (AAPL) has finally launched the iPhone on China Mobile's (CHL) massive network, but despite the carrier's 763M subscribers, skepticism exists about how much the companies will benefit.
- "You need to consider the cannibalization of (iPhone) sales from China Unicom (CHU), China Telecom (CHA) and the grey market," says Gartner analyst CK Lu. "So even though there's an addition from China Mobile, it will also impact sales from other channels as well."
- As for China Mobile, there are concerns about subsidies it might have to pay. "I don't see a price war coming where Apple is engaged in the war, but I do think you're going to see a subsidy war coming," says Michael Clendenin of Shanghai-based RedTech Advisors.
Dec. 26, 2013, 2:54 PM
- The Chinese government has issued licenses (translation) to 11 companies looking to offer mobile services via MVNO arrangements with incumbents China Mobile (CHL -0.2%), China Unicom (CHU -0.7%), and China Telecom (CHA). Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is among the companies receiving a license.
- Though the incumbents will receive service fees from MVNOs, the licenses set the stage for China's mobile services market to see its first major jolt of new competition in years. The market's last major shakeup arguably happened in '08, when China Telecom (originally focused on wireline services) struck a deal to purchase China Unicom's 2G CDMA network.
- The licenses arrive shortly after the Chinese government slashed the interconnection fees China Unicom and Telecom have to pay China Mobile (by far the market's biggest player). All three carriers have seen their voice/text revenues pressured by the rise of mobile messaging services, particularly Tencent's WeChat.
Dec. 26, 2013, 7:06 AM
- China has approved a pilot scheme that will allow 11 private "virtual carriers" to sell mobile phone services using the infrastructure of the country's dominant operators, China Mobile (CHL), China Telecom (CHA) and China Unicom (CHU).
- "It's a milestone," says the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology. "It will draw private investment, and stimulate competition and innovation in the telecoms sector," giving "consumers greater choice and better service."
- The 11 companies to receive permits include Net.cn, a unit of online retail giant Alibaba.
- ETFs: CHIQ, CQQQ, QQQC, KWEB
Dec. 4, 2013, 6:57 PM
- The Chinese government has finally issued 4G licenses (long anticipated) to China Mobile (CHL), China Unicom (CHU), and China Telecom (CHA), paving the way for commercial service launches to start.
- China Mobile, which has already built out a giant "trial" 4G network, is set to have a 4G partner conference in two weeks that will reportedly feature an iPhone announcement. China Telecom says it will launch 4G services in Q1.
- Notably, the licenses only cover 4G networks relying on the TD-LTE standard (allows for more capacity to be allocated to downlinks than uplinks, if carriers wish). China Unicom and Telecom both want to run networks using the FDD LTE standard, which is far more popular internationally, and say they still plan to request FDD LTE licenses in the future.
- In addition to Apple, Chinese 4G launches are likely to benefit Qualcomm (QCOM). Whereas Qualcomm faces tough competition in the Chinese 3G baseband chip market (particularly on the low-end) and has had royalty collection issues for sales of phones running on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA 3G network, it has a dominant share of the global 4G baseband market, and hasn't had any major 4G collection issues.
- Many think the Chinese government's anti-monopoly probe of Qualcomm is a bargaining tactic aimed at securing 4G royalty rate concessions.
Oct. 28, 2013, 4:12 AM| Comment!
Oct. 9, 2013, 9:43 AM
- Marbridge Consulting reports Alcatel (ALU -0.1%) was the only Western telecom equipment provider to receive a large share of a China Telecom (CHA +0.2%) 4G equipment tender.
- Local equipment giants ZTE (ZTCOY.PK) and Huawei are received 32% and 28.9% of the order, respectively. Alcatel came in at #3 with 16.6%, and was followed by China's New Postcom (6.4%) and Datang (5.7%). Ericsson, Nokia, and Fiberhome (another local firm) received less than 5% of the order between them.
- Alcatel also received a double-digit share of a recent China Mobile tender for 207K 4G base stations. Ericsson and Nokia fared notably better that time around.
Sep. 24, 2013, 11:11 AM
- In what could be a trial balloon, the Chinese government plans to lift its ban on "politically sensitive" foreign websites in Shanghai's new free-trade zone, according to government sources talking to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. Facebook (FB +4.7%), Twitter, and the New York Times are among the sites that will reportedly be made accessible.
- In addition, the government plans to allow foreign carriers to bid for licenses to provide Internet services in the free-trade zone. State-owned carriers China Mobile (CHL -0.8%), China Telecom (CHA -1.8%), and China Unicom (CHU -2.8%) have all reportedly been informed foreign companies will be able to compete with them in the area.
- For now, the zone only covers 29 sq. km. But sources state it could eventually cover Shanghai's entire Pudong business district (1,210 sq. km), home to the Shanghai Stock Exchange and arguably China's most vital commercial hub.
- The report comes shortly after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg met with Chinese Web regulators. China already has a well-developed social networking scene, with Tencent (TCEHY.PK) and SINA claiming hundreds of millions of registered users for their respective platforms.
CHA vs. ETF Alternatives
China Telecom Corp Ltd is an integrated information service company. It offers telecommunications services, including wireline voice services, mobile voice services, Internet access services, value-added services etc.
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