Mon, May 11, 8:53 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) has urged the FCC to put a cap on wireless spectrum-auction bidding credits of $10M for designated entities ((DEs)), the companies funded by bigger firms that can bid on their behalf and earn small-business credits.
- Competitors have been harshly competitive of Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), who used two DEs in the AWS-3 auction to apply for $3B in bidding credits, effectively winning $13.3B in spectrum for just $10B in bids. The FCC is scrutinizing those credits, and a $10M cap would have effectively invalidated Dish's strategy.
- Meanwhile, the FCC is reportedly circulating a draft order for the 2016 broadcast incentive auction that is almost unchanged from the original, despite entreaties from various firms/groups (also including Verizon (NYSE:VZ)) for changes. The draft is scheduled to be released next month.
- Previously: WSJ: FCC may reject $3.3B Dish Network spectrum discount (Apr. 27 2015)
- Previously: Big bidders receive spectrum from FCC auction; Dish waiting (Apr. 10 2015)
Fri, May 8, 8:46 PM
- Late today, the FCC denied requests for staying its Title II reclassification decision, filed by industry players including cable lobbies NCTA and ACA, as well as wireless trade group CTIA, USTelecom, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, AT&T (NYSE:T) and CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL).
- Cogent Communications (NASDAQ:CCOI) had filed in opposition to those stay requests.
- The next move is likely to federal court, where NCTA and ACA have already indicated they intend to keep pursuing a stop to the orders. (via Broadcasting & Cable)
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)
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, 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, 5:30 PM
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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%.
Thu, Apr. 30, 5:31 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) has wrapped its acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings for $1.875B (less some $427M of adjustments including net debt).
- Following its integration of Iusacell earlier this year, the company says it plans to create "the first-ever North American Mobile Service area, which will cover more than 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States."
- AT&T credited quick action by Mexico's post-reform telecom regulator in getting the deals through smoothly.
- Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of AT&T Mexico and Iusacell, will be in charge of the combination.
- Previously: AT&T adds more unlimited calling to Mexico (Feb. 17 2015)
- Previously: AT&T closes Iusacell deal, puts tech exec in charge (Jan. 16 2015)
Tue, Apr. 28, 8:42 PM
- During T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) Q1 earnings call, colorful CEO John Legere took another opportunity to hint at the tie-up that increasingly seems to be in the company's future: with a cableco that offers broadband.
- Just days after FCC opposition killed the Comcast-TWC merger, Legere pointed to the need to counterbalance AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which combine wireless service with broadband offerings and even TV business.
- Regulators seem to be opposed to cable-cable deals, and wireless-wireless deals like aborted plans for a Sprint (NYSE:S) merger with T-Mobile -- but Legere notes a natural fit may occur across industries: "The tangential players are touching mobile players in a way that makes a go-to-market strategy."
- Analyst Craig Moffett urges caution, as regulators might already see the two industries as competition. "Wireless broadband is clearly the FCC's best hope for a counter to cable's wired advantage. They might decide that they aren't ready to allow a combination like that."
- Possible cable suitors: CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC
- After earnings today, TMUS -0.3%.
- Related: T-Mobile US (TMUS) Q1 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript (Apr. 28 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile grows Q1 revenues 13%, adds 1.8M subscribers (Apr. 28 2015)
- Previously: T-Mobile keeps fanning Dish partnership flames (Mar. 06 2015)
Mon, Apr. 27, 6:11 PM
- A few months after Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) made the surprise bids in the FCC's AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, the FCC may reject the company's $3.3B in small-business discounts it sought, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The discounts have been unapproved since the auction. Competing bidders including T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- along with FCC commissioner Ajit Pai -- raised loud complaints about Dish's use of two designated entities, SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless, to bid for $13.3B in spectrum but pay only $10B.
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reportedly told his staff after the auction that something didn't "smell right." Both Dish Network and its partner in Northstar Wireless stuck up for the practice.
- If the discounts are rejected, the small companies would have to pay back the discounts or risk losing the licenses.
Fri, Apr. 24, 7:30 PM
- Comcast has ended its pursuit of Time Warner Cable, but what about that lawsuit from content companies that threatened to slow the whole thing down?
- Companies including CBS, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) argued that the FCC's sharing hundreds of thousands of pages of negotiating strategies with third-party merger opponents like Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) would be "highly damaging." The fight was likely to add several weeks to any related merger consideration.
- The suit, still at the U.S. Court of Appeals, is still in progress because it also involved the ongoing AT&T (NYSE:T) deal to acquire DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV). Attorneys close to the case are figuring that the Comcast-TWC documents will now be off the table as a moot point.
- Still, the decision likely still has an impact on the timeline for AT&T/DirecTV. The FCC will file an updated notification with the court.
- Previously: AT&T sells third-biggest debt offering to fund DirecTV purchase (Apr. 23 2015)
- Previously: Comcast, TWC move higher premarket on merger's end (Apr. 24 2015)
- Previously: It's over: Comcast officially ends $45B pursuit of TWC (Apr. 24 2015)
Thu, Apr. 23, 6:24 PM
- AT&T (T +4.2%) peddled $17.5B in bonds in the third-biggest debt offering on record, as it draws funds to help pay for its acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- a media deal that looks to be a survivor as other mergers fall apart.
- The sale's part of a record year in debt sales; it's the third-biggest ever but only the second-largest this year, as Actavis sold $21B in March.
- Yield-hungry investors put in $68B in orders, nearly four times the offer. A 10-year bond was priced to yield 3.435%; a 31-year bond at 4.772%.
- The company may be getting ahead of the rush. More debt deals are likely to come ahead of any move by the Fed to raise rates, and they're likely to find investors so long as there are negative yields still in the market.
- AT&T will redeem some bonds at a premium if the DTV deal's not done by Nov. 30, though it still exepcts a Q2 closing.
- Previously: AT&T call: On reducing churn, and post-acquisition deleveraging (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 8:29 PM
- Google's Project Fi wireless MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service will piggyback on the networks of Sprint (S +2%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%) when it's not using Wi-Fi to route calls and data -- and while traffic is better than "no traffic," analysts at Cowen and Evercore say it won't mean much benefit for the two wireless firms.
- Colby Synesael of Cowen says that financial gains will be limited for the two (and for Google): It's all about Google trying to shape the market in ways that might eventually pay off. The offer is "compelling" on price and technology and could make a monetary difference if device support grows, but it's more likely about carriers making Fi's practices mainstream, he says.
- On price, the data giveback and international aspects of Fi could pressure AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to follow suit, Synesael writes.
- Evercore's Jonathan Schildkraut found the announcement in line with expectations, though "we also would not rule out a potential relationship between GOOG and the MSOs' Wi-Fi networks as another way to dis-intermediate the traditional carrier," he writes. "Not as Bad as Expected for T and VZ. We view the higher than expected toll to get on the network ($20) as likely better for carriers than anticipated."
- Previously: Google launches Fi mobile service - $20/month for voice/text, $10 per GB (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 6:07 PM
- On the AT&T (NYSE:T) Q1 earnings call, CFO John Stephens said 2015 would be a "transformative year" for the company and said they stood "ready to move quickly once the DirecTV and Nextel Mexico deals close."
- Can AT&T reduce churn (at a first-quarter best-ever 1.03%) even lower amid hot competition? They're not guiding to lower churn, Stephens says -- and notes Q2 of last year (postpaid churn of 0.86%) would be a tough comparison -- but notes Mobile Share Value accounts of "about 19.5M accounts, 2.9 devices per account ... yes, that really does help with churn."
- "Effectively our feature phone churn is higher, and as we reduce that to 16% of our base ... we're optimistic that we can increase the smartphone base and that will give us a lever to manage churn to a lower level."
- Stephens stayed mostly mum on competitive aspects of the just-announced Google Fi phone service but said "I understand it's got a very limited number of devices; that's not generally the way we like to present options to customers. My understanding is there's going to be very limited distribution and customer care ... those things are items we've found our customers value. We'll just have to wait and see."
- How will AT&T get back to a leverage target of 1.8x after a spectrum and acquisition spree? "We're expecting free cash flow to exceed dividends and provide cash -- not only this year but into the future, to pay down debt. Two, we're expecting EBITDA to expand, not only from the acquisition of DirecTV but from the cost savings that we've talked about."
- "We'll continue to look at all aspects of our asset portfolio ... We have about a $300B total asset portfolio today, that will only get larger with DTV and Nextel Mexico ... We have a pretty reliable record of generating over $15B worth of cash from asset monetizations and we've done it very tax-efficiently."
- Shares are up 1.5% in late trade.
- Previously: AT&T up 1.9% after beating on EPS, posting best-ever churn (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 4:31 PM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) is up 1.9% in postmarket trade, after beating EPS expectations but missing on revenue that it says was impacted by foreign exchange issues.
- The company reports 1.2M total net adds in wireless, which includes 441K postpaid and 684K connected cars.
- Churn drops to a best-ever 1.02% (from previous year's 1.07%) as the transition to no-subsidy device plans continues. (Yesterday, Verizon reported its churn fell back to 1.03%.)
- Revenue breakdown: Service, $29.96B (down 2.7%); Equipment, $3.61B (up 33.9%). Total wireless revenues were up 1.8% to $18.2B, and wireless equipment revenues were up 36% to $3.4B. Wireline revenues were $14.1B, down 3.1% (adjust for sale of Connecticut operations, down 1.2%).
- Wireless operating income was $4.4B (-12% as Mobile Share Value plans took off). Wireline operating income was $1.4B, down 3.5%.
- The company still expects its acquisition of DirecTV to close in Q2 and unsurprisingly expects higher cost synergies, to reach at least $2.5B on annual run rate by the third year after closing -- up from the previously expected $1.6B.
- Conference call at 4:30 ET (now).
- Press release
Wed, Apr. 22, 4:03 PM
T vs. ETF Alternatives
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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