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  • Thu, Jun. 11, 5:18 PM
    • With just hours to go before the FCC was to begin enforcement of new net neutrality rules, a federal appeals court has declined to stay them in a blow to telecom firms that hoped to block them while litigation plays out.
    • The rules are set to go into effect tomorrow. The plaintiffs argue that they do not object to some of the regulations, like bans on blocking/throttling and paid prioritization, but they are fighting vigorously against Title II classification, which would mean regulating broadband as a tightly controlled telecom service.
    • Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
    • Previous coverage on net neutrality
    | Thu, Jun. 11, 5:18 PM | 32 Comments
  • Mon, Jun. 8, 5:19 PM
    • In the latest (but not the last) contract dispute over TV programming, AT&T (NYSE:T) has a contract expiration coming June 30 for CBS and its cable channels, including Showtime -- and CBS seems to be expecting its channels to go dark on the U-verse service.
    • CBS is showing frustration with AT&T's slow progress, The Wall Street Journal reports, and is concerned that it's a precursor to a U-verse shutdown by AT&T, which is hoping to close its acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) also by the end of June.
    • If CBS stations go dark, 2.5M subscribers (many more in Showtime's case) would lose the programming, primarily in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago.
    • AT&T has suggested that it had no plans to shut down U-verse just because of acquiring DirecTV, but if the merger closes before the U-verse contract is renewed, the DirecTV team might take over negotiations -- and that with the advantage of seeing a one-time rival's contract with the broadcaster.
    | Mon, Jun. 8, 5:19 PM | 8 Comments
  • Mon, Jun. 8, 12:32 PM
    • Vodafone (VOD +0.6%) has gained as much as 12.5% after John Malone's May 19 comment about how the company would be a "great fit" with his Liberty Global, but some sober thought about regulatory risk for any deal has meant it coming a bit closer to earth, down 5.6% from the 52-week high.
    • Vodafone clarified that the companies were talking about an asset swap and talk now turns to whether Vodafone's board might consider a breakup of the firm in order to ease a deal -- in which case AT&T (NYSE:T) could re-emerge as a buyer, using cash flow from an acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
    • Vodafone is already considering an IPO of its India business, and the other emerging market operations may need to be split off as well. But CEO Vittorio Colao has been opposed to splitting the firm.
    • Oppenheimer speculated earlier this year that AT&T could acquire Vodafone and move its HQ out of the U.S. for tax savings, though the Obama administration planned to fight such strategies.
    • Meanwhile, Bank of America has upgraded Vodafone to Neutral from its previous Underperform, and raised its price target to $38 from $35. Shares are trading today at $37.27.
    • Previously: Vodafone -2.2% after dampening Liberty merger talk (Jun. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone up as Goldman says it may be an asset seller (May. 22 2015)
    | Mon, Jun. 8, 12:32 PM | 7 Comments
  • Tue, Jun. 2, 12:13 PM
    • With a federal review now in its endgame, AT&T (T +0.4%) is ready to make concessions in order to seal its $49B deal for DirecTV (DTV +0.2%), The Washington Post reports.
    • Speculation has centered on whether AT&T would embrace the FCC's new net neutrality rules regardless of the outcome of its pending litigation -- and the company appears ready to do so in several areas to get the deal done.
    • Along with offering stand-alone broadband plans that might encourage cord-cutting, AT&T would honor a ban on blocking and throttling (slowing down) sites, as well as agree to refrain from "paid prioritization" -- where companies pay Internet providers to get into a "fast lane."
    • Several details are unclear, though, including how long AT&T would need to abide by the commitments (earlier reports suggested several years), or what its broadband-only plans would have to look like in speed and price (opponents want 25 MBps for $30/month; AT&T's countered with 6 MBps for $35/month).
    • Also still a thorny issue: interconnection fees that have seen content firms wrestling with carriers over who's paying for heavy traffic from the likes of Netflix.
    • Previously: AT&T/DirecTV deal review still paused at FCC (May. 28 2015)
    | Tue, Jun. 2, 12:13 PM | 5 Comments
  • Mon, Jun. 1, 7:57 PM
    • Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) has this going for it: It no longer has the industry's worst customer service, at least according to Consumer Reports.
    • That honor goes to smaller player Mediacom, though not by much -- and peers like Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) aren't much better than that.
    • Armstrong and WideOpenWest were highest rated in all the services they provide, suggesting small really is better when it comes to customer service (though Mediacom has just 890K subscribers against TWC's 12.25M).
    • When it comes to TV service, Verizon's FiOS (NYSE:VZ) and satellite providers Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) did very well with consumers.
    | Mon, Jun. 1, 7:57 PM | 7 Comments
  • Thu, May 28, 7:47 PM
    • The "shot clock" on the FCC's review of AT&T's (NYSE:T) purchase offer for DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- the 180-day period where the agency vets the deal -- is still in pause, even though deal reviews will be starting to pile up behind it (Charter-TWC, Avago/Broadcom).
    • The FCC paused the clock in mid-March with just 10 days left, and while it's an informal deadline, it can be used to get more documents for review.
    • That pause was due to a court case on third-party programming contracts, and that was decided weeks ago.
    • AT&T, for its part, is submitting more documents in hopes of getting the review moving again.
    | Thu, May 28, 7:47 PM | 6 Comments
  • Fri, May 22, 3:43 PM
    • The FCC will charge satellite TV providers like Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) a per-subscriber fee as it does cable and telephone TV providers, it said in an order -- and it is considering lowering the fees for cable and IPTV now that satellite firms are part of the mix.
    • The DBS firms had been paying a per-license fee. The new per-subscriber fee looks to be $0.12/year, which would offset the fees for cable and IPTV to $0.95 from $1.01.
    • The fees fund the FCC operations and are based on amount of work dealing with a particular service; Dish and DirecTV argued that DBS generated "nowhere near the regulatory costs of cable."
    | Fri, May 22, 3:43 PM | Comment!
  • Thu, May 21, 9:17 AM
    • New additions to Goldman's hedge fund hotels - 50 stocks which most frequently appear among the largest ten holdings of hedge funds: AerCap (NYSE:AER), Assured Guaranty (NYSE:AGO), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), Citizens Financial (NYSE:CFG), Colony Capital (NYSE:CLNY), Dresser-Rand (NYSE:DRC), Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO), Hospira (NYSE:HSP), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), NXP Semi (NASDAQ:NXPI), Pharmacyclics (NASDAQ:PCYC), Visa (NYSE:V), and Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA).
    • Since 2001, the basket has outperformed the S&P 500 in 66% of quarters by an average of 73 basis points. YTD, however, it has underperformed by nine bps. Goldman notes the current basket overweights Consumer Discretionary (22%) and underweights Consumer Staples (2%).
    • Looking at the full list, Actavis (NYSE:ACT) leads the way, with 77 funds naming the stock as a top 10 holding. Next up is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) with 69, then Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) at 42. For the entire list of 50, the average is 26 funds making a stock a top 10 holding.
    • The rest in order: Valeant (NYSE:VRX), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Time Warner (NYSE:TWC), Delta (NYSE:DAL), Cheneire (NYSEMKT:LNG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYK), AIG, SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE), Air Products (NYSE:APD), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), GM, BofA (NYSE:BAC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Macquarie Infrastructure (NYSE:MIC), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Ally Financial (NYSE:ALLY), NorthStar Realty (NYSE:NRF), Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), MasterCard (NYSE:MA), Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Micron (NASDAQ:MU), Williams (NYSE:WMB), Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B), Dolar General (NYSE:DG), NorthStar Asset (NYSE:NSAM), Brookdale Senior (NYSE:BKD), DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
    • See also: Goldman updates list of hedge funds most-shorted stocks (May 21)
    | Thu, May 21, 9:17 AM | 19 Comments
  • Mon, May 18, 10:22 AM
    • After a pause, AT&T (T +0.4%) looks ready to move forward with new investment on the expectation that new net neutrality rules will get changed either by the courts (AT&T is party to action in federal court) or Congress.
    • CEO Randall Stephenson had suggested that the company pause a plan to spend billions while they awaited the final rules from the FCC on how the industry would be regulated.
    • Now: "So we've said we're going to invest around $18 billion this year. That will allow us to deploy a wireless broadband solution to 13 million homes around the U.S.," he said on CNBC. "That compares to about $22 billion last year."
    • AT&T extended its deadline for acquiring DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) as it expects to close the deal in Q2 and many observers think the acquisition will be done at least by July.
    | Mon, May 18, 10:22 AM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, May 15, 6:44 PM
    | Fri, May 15, 6:44 PM | 14 Comments
  • Wed, May 13, 6:50 PM
    • Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI), along with other advocacy groups, have spelled out the conditions they'd like to see for a successful AT&T (NYSE:T) purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
    • Opponents to the deal met with FCC staffers last week; AT&T is expected to meet with deal reviewers in the coming days, and hopes to close the deal by the end of June.
    • Dish, Cogent and other critics asked that AT&T promise to sell Internet as a standalone service outside of its bundles at a reasonable price, and they asked the FCC to make AT&T comply with stricter net neutrality provisions for seven years, regardless of how AT&T's suit against the rules comes out.
    • Also requested: that AT&T include all video in any data caps, and restrictions on how AT&T handles interconnect traffic -- which particularly affects Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Dish's new Sling TV streaming service, key competition for DirecTV service.
    • Previously: Cogent joins Netflix in demanding conditions for AT&T/DirecTV combo (May. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Netflix to FCC: Reject AT&T/DirecTV merger (May. 05 2015)
    | Wed, May 13, 6:50 PM | 9 Comments
  • Fri, May 8, 11:37 AM
    • A suit that might have slowed down progress on the review of AT&T's (NYSE:T) purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) has wrapped, with the court throwing out the FCC's order for media companies to disclose their pay-TV programming contracts.
    • The agency had asked for the disclosures in connection with their reviews of that deal and of Comcast's now-failed bid for Time Warner Cable, but major content companies including CBS, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) argued the results would cause "irreparable harm" to their negotiating strategies.
    • The FCC's order was found "substantially and procedurally flawed." The resolution removes yet another hurdle between AT&T and DirecTV.
    • Previously: With Comcast-TWC done, federal suit likely focuses on AT&T-DirecTV (Apr. 24 2015)
    | Fri, May 8, 11:37 AM | 9 Comments
  • Tue, May 5, 11:47 PM
    • Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI) joined Netflix today in calling for conditions on the proposed merger of AT&T (NYSE:T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV).
    • Data carriers like Cogent (along with firms like Netflix) are focused on interchange issues, the fees that a broadband behemoth could collect for accepting Internet traffic -- and their opposition, or the nature of it, could be good news for the deal, says industry analyst Craig Moffett.
    • The reason? The companies could be kingmakers by urging concessions, he says: They helped sink the Comcast-TWC deal, and now with AT&T/DirecTV, “two of the most ardent opponents are tacitly blessing the idea of the merger as long as there are appropriate conditions.”
    • The two say that a combined AT&T/DirecTV with no restrictions will have a bigger incentive to stymie streaming entertainment.
    | Tue, May 5, 11:47 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, May 5, 9:13 PM
    • DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- down 1.7% today following this morning's earnings miss -- did have the benefit of adding 279K net new subscribers, including 60K in the U.S., running counter to old-line cablecos facing video subscriber losses.
    • The problem, the WSJ notes, is that those other companies like Comcast and Charter made up for it with broadband service -- and DirecTV doesn't offer that. And when the video numbers turn, DTV will start to suffer, especially if anything gets in the way of its tie-up with AT&T (NYSE:T).
    • During the earnings call today, CEO Michael White said the company has about 1M subs on its "skinny bundle" -- a $19.99/month package that goes up to $49.99 after a 24-month contract. The company introduced that package after Dish Network launched its $20/month Sling TV.
    • White says he'd think about skinny differently with a broadband component and notes DirecTV could technically offer over-the-top service through its set-top, and already does something like it with a Pandora app.
    • Previously: Netflix to FCC: Reject AT&T/DirecTV merger (May. 05 2015)
    | Tue, May 5, 9:13 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, May 5, 12:29 PM
    • DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) is off 0.7% now after Q1 earnings missed on top and bottom lines amid weakness in the company's Latin American business weighed down by forex issues.
    • Adjusted net income fell to $730M. EBITDA of $2.11&B missed an expecteed $2.136B.
    • Overall the company added 279K net new subscribers. DirecTV U.S. added net 60K new subscribers and reported churn of 1.37% -- down from a year-ago 1.45% and its lowest Q1 rate in six years.
    • Latin America showed net 219K new subscribers, down from year-ago 361K; churn there grew to 2.15% from 1.85%. Currency headwinds caused ARPU to decline 18.8% to $46.80 at the Sky Brasil unit, and decline 1.8% to $40.47 at the PanAmericana and Other segment.
    • Free cash flow rose 5% to $927M, mainly due to lower tax payments and lower net interest payments.
    • Conference call at 2 p.m. ET.
    • Press Release
    • Previously: Netflix to FCC: Reject AT&T/DirecTV merger (May. 05 2015)
    | Tue, May 5, 12:29 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, May 5, 11:04 AM
    • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is pressing the FCC to reject the $48B merger of AT&T (NYSE:T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), according to regulatory filings revealed today, on complaints about market power -- as the merger could "lead to its becoming the largest (Internet service provider) in the country as well" as becoming the biggest MVPD.
    • The remarks came as Netflix officials met with more than 20 FCC staff last week.
    • "Such market power creates new incentives and abilities to harm entities that AT&T perceives as competitive threats," Netflix reps said, "and will exacerbate the anticompetitive behavior in which AT&T has already engaged."
    • Netflix shares are up 3.8% today in the wake of BofA/Merrill Lynch's heavy upgrade; AT&T is down 1.2% and DirecTV is down 0.5%.
    | Tue, May 5, 11:04 AM | 31 Comments
DTV vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description
DirecTV is a provider of digital television entertainment in the United States and Latin America. It operates two direct-to-home, or DTH, business units: DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America.
Sector: Services
Industry: CATV Systems
Country: United States