LONDON — The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) has had a great week, smashing through records to set a new five-and-a-half year high of 6,638 points during Friday, and closing the week a few points down from that on 6,625. That’s seven sessions of gains in a row, mostly boosted by positive earnings reports from some of the U.K.’s top companies, but also supported by continuing economic stimulus measures.
We take a look at three of the week’s biggest risers, and one faller.
BT Group (LSE: SL )
BT Group saw its price rise by 34.5 pence (12.5%) to 309.5 pence, after the U.K.’s biggest fixed-line telecom company announced a 14% increase in its annual dividend on Friday, to 9.5 pence. That’s a yield of 3.1% on the current price — and BT intends to lift its payment by 10%-15% per year over the next two years. Although actual revenues fell, by 5% to 18.3 billion pounds, substantial savings in operating costs were made, and BT managed to get net debt down by 1.3 billion pounds to 7.8 billion. We also heard that BT’s broadband fiber now reaches more than half of U.K. homes and businesses, and that 1.5 million customers have signed up for it.
Top 5 Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In 2014: Vodafone Group PLC (VOD)
Vodafone Group Plc (Vodafone), incorporated in 1984, is a mobile communications company operating across the globe providing a range of communications services. The Company offers a range of products and services, including voice, messaging, data and fixed-line solutions and devices to assist customers in meeting their total communications needs. Vodafone has a global presence, with equity interests in over 30 countries and over 40 partner markets worldwide. It operates in three geographic regions: Europe, Africa and Central Europe; Asia Pacific, and the Middle East, and has an investment in Verizon Wireless in the United States. In October 2010, Vodafone Global Enterprise, the business within Vodafone, announced the acquisition of two telecom expense management (TEM) companies, Quickcomm and TnT Expense Management. In November 2011, the Company sold 24.4% interest in Polkomtel in Poland. In March 2012, Verizon Wireless, which is a joint venture of Verizon Communications I nc. and Vodafone, purchased the operating assets of Cellular One of Northeast Pennsylvania from the Company. In April 2012, its Netherlands-based division, Vodafone Libertel BV, acquired Telespectrum-DJ. On October 31, 2012, the Company acquired TelstraClear Limited. In May 2013, Vodafone Group Plc announced launch of its carrier services business unit.
In Europe, the Company’s mobile subsidiaries and joint venture operate under the brand name Vodafone. Its associate in France operates as SFR and Neuf Cegetel, and its fixed-line communication businesses operate as Vodafone, Arcor, Tele2 and TeleTu. Vodafone’s subsidiaries in Africa and Central Europe operate under the Vodafone brand, or in the case of Vodacom and its mobile subsidiaries, the Vodacom and Gateway brands. Its joint venture in Poland operates as Polkomtel and its associate in Kenya operates as Safaricom. The Company’s subsidiaries and joint venture in Fiji operate under the Vodafone brand, an d its joint venture in Australia operates under the brands V! odafone and 3. The Company’s associate in the United States operates under the brand Verizon Wireless.
Vodafone has an international customer base with 370 million mobile customers across the world as of March 31, 2011. Vodafone also caters to all business segments ranging from small-office-home-office (SoHo) and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) to corporates and multinational corporations. Through its subsidiaries, Vodafone directly owns and manages approximately 2,200 stores around the world. The Company also has around 10,300 Vodafone-branded stores run through franchise and exclusive dealer arrangements.
The Company’s range of handsets covers all its customer segments and price points, and is available in a variety of designs. During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011 (fiscal 2011), 14 new handsets were released under its own brand and it shipped 5.8 million. In addition to handsets, it supplies a range of connected smart devices. It suppl ies the iPhone in 19 markets. During fiscal 2011, the Company launched its USB stick based on 4G/LTE technology in Germany and Verizon Wireless launched in the United States.; Vodafone WebBox; a smartphone roaming data plan that allows the European customers to use their home data plan abroad for only 2 a day to access the Internet, emails and applications; the Android-powered Vodafone 845 and 945 devices; Vodafone TV services; Vodafone 252, which comes pre-loaded with Vodafone M-Pesa for mobile payment services and a prepaid balance indicator that helps customers to keep track of their phone credit to avoid overspending; Vodafone M-Pesa in South Africa, Qatar and Fiji; 3G services in India, and LTE services by acquiring LTE spectrum in Germany.
The Company is a carrier of mobile voice traffic in the world providing domestic, international and roaming voice services to more than 370 million customers. Its networks sent and received over 292 billion text, pictur e, music and video messages during fiscal 2011. The Company ! serves mo! re than 75 million customers with data services, which allow access to the Internet, email and applications on their phones, tablets, laptops and netbooks. The Company provides a range of data products, including Machine-to-machine (‘M2M’) connections, which allow devices to communicate with one another via built-in mobile SIM cards; Third party billing; Financial services; Near field communication (‘NFC’), and Mobile advertising. The Company, as of March 31, 2011, served 5.3 million M2M connections around the world. NFC allows communication between devices when they are touched together or brought within a few centimetres of each other. The Company has mobile advertising business in 18 countries with a range of capabilities. Over six million customers use its fixed broadband services in 13 markets to meet their total communications needs. In addition, through Gateway, it provides wholesale carrier services to more than 40 African countries. Other service revenue inc ludes business managed services, such as secure remote network access, and revenue from mobile virtual network operators generated from selling access to its network at the wholesale level. The Company’s enterprise customers range from small-office-home-office (‘SoHo’) businesses and small to medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs’), through to domestic and multinational companies. The Company has 34 million enterprise customers accounting for around 9% of all customers and around 23% of service revenue. The Company focuses on SoHos and SMEs to provide customers with integrated fixed and mobile communications solutions. Vodafone Global Enterprise manages the communication needs of over 560 of the multinational corporate customers. It provides a range of managed services, such as Central Ordering, Device Manager, Spend Manager Solutions, Invoice Manager, Vodafone Neverfail and Telecoms management. The Company offers a range of total communications applications, as well as services for enterprise and consumer customers. Vodafone Alw! ays Best ! Connected software enables customers to stay connected to the Internet on the available connection wherever they are by automatically managing the switching between connection types including mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and LAN. Vodafone PC Backup is an online back-up and restores service that enables users to remotely store data securely and automatically via their Internet connection.
- [By MONEYMORNING.COM]
With that in mind, the four main Russian tech leaders investors should know about are:
VimpelCom Ltd. (ADR) (Nasdaq: VIP), a broad telecom play. The company provides both fixed and wireless web access, as well as mobile communications and services. The company has a number of subsidiaries that, taken together, have something like 215 million subscribers. Mobile Telesystems OJSC (ADR) (NYSE: MBT), a straight-up mobile play that operates in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Armenia. Plus, it has a strategic relationship with one of Europe’s major players, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (Nasdaq: VOD). Qiwi PLC (Nasdaq: QIWI), a leader in electronic payments through kiosks, the web, and mobile platforms. It’s Russia’s version of PayPal – so we better not tell Carl Icahn… he might start a campaign to break up that company, too. And Yandex NV (Nasdaq: YNDX), which is the “Google of Russia.” Yandex operates the world’s fourth-ranked search engine and enjoys a 60% market share in its home country. Google, with about a quarter of the market, is a very distant second there.
That’s a great rundown on Russia’s tech leaders. Are there any worth buying at this level? And why?
- [By LarryZ6]
The British mobile operator Vodafone (VOD) confirmed the acquisition of Spanish cable operator ONO for € 7.2 billion ($ 10 billion), including around € 3.3 billion in debt. By so doing, Vodafone continues its strategy of expanding operations to fixed-line, pay-tv and broadband services, while saving money through the operations of its own networks.
- [By Tom Taulli]
NSA scandal: On the AT&T earnings call, CEO Randall Stephenson noted that the continuing revelations about the company’s involvement with the NSA are having an impact. In other words, it could get tougher to acquire a rival like Vodafone (VOD). AT&T has already backed off a bid, even though a deal would be a smart way to find growth. Of course, this doesn’t mean a transaction will be impossible. But it could result in a prolonged and expensive process, which could involve making more concessions.
- [By Holly LaFon]
Almost every investment positively contributed to performance in 2013, and the importance of good partners and strong businesses was evident. New leaders quickly improved operations and sold non-core assets to strengthen the balance sheets at Chesapeake, Hochtief , and Level 3. At Philips and Wendy’s, managements focused on the most profitable parts of their businesses while implementing successful programs to increase revenues and margins. We had major asset sales at premiums to our appraisals at Vodafone (VOD) (Verizon Wireless stake) and Graham Holdings (GHC) (The Washington Post).
Top 5 Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In 2014: Softbank Corp (SFTBF)
SOFTBANK CORP. is a Japan-based company that provides digital information services. The Company has six business segments. The Mobile Communication segment provides cellular phone services and sells attached cellular phone terminals. The Broadband and Infrastructure segment provides high-speed Internet access services, Internet protocol (IP) phone service, and contents. The Fixed Communication segment provides transmission services for audio and data, as well as exclusive line and data center services. The Internet Culture segment is engaged in the Internet advertising, broadband portal and auction businesses. The Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) segment sells personal computers (PCs), peripheral devices and software for PC use, as well as provides business-to-business and business-to-customer e-commerce services. The Others segment is involved in the broadcasting media, technology service, media marketing and overseas fund businesses.
- [By Jonathan Berr]
Opposition to the latest wireless rumored wireless merger might have come as a surprise to Sprint’s CEO/pitchman Daniel Hesse and Masayoshi Son, the head of Japan’s SoftBank (SFTBF), which acquired a controlling interest in Sprint for $1.9 billion last year. For one thing, it’s hard to imagine the new company posing much of a competitive threat. A combined Sprint/T-Mobile would have 53 million users — significantly greater than their individual parts, but still less than half the 110 million served by AT&T and the 120 million subscribers under the Verizon flag.
- [By MARKETWATCH]
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks rose Wednesday after a lower open, managing solid gains with most other Asian markets were closed for the Christmas holiday. The Nikkei Stock Average (JP:NIK) climbed 0.8% to 16,009.99, its first close above the 16,000 level since late 2007. The broader Topix ended with a more modest 0.1% rise. Seven & I Holdings Co. (JP:3382) (SVNDF) , operators of the 7-Eleven convenience-store chain, rose 1.5% as a Nikkei Asian Review report said it planned to pay about ¥5 billion yen to purchase nearly half of Bals, which runs home-and-kitchen-furnishings retailer Francfranc. Chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp. (JP:6723) (RNECY) was a strong performer, rallying 6.5% after suffering a sizeable drop in the previous session. On the downside, shares of Softbank Corp. (JP:9984) (SFTBF) fell 0.5%, after a separate article in the Nikkei saying that previously reported plans by the firm to buy T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) through its newly acquired Sprint (S) unit would value the transaction at more than 2 trillion yen ($19 billion) and would take place as early as next spring. Auto-maker stocks were mostly higher after trading mixed following the release of Japanese car-sales data for November. Toyota Motor Corp. (JP:7203) (TM) added 0.2%, Honda Motor Co. (JP:7267)
- [By MARKETWATCH]
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks rose Wednesday after a lower open, with action quiet as most other Asian markets were closed for the Christmas holiday. The Nikkei Stock Average (JP:NIK) gained 0.4% to 15,948.04, but with the broader Topix 0.4% lower. Seven & I Holdings Co. (JP:3382) (SVNDF) , operators of the 7-Eleven convenience-store chain, rose 1.3% as a Nikkei Asian Review report said it planned to pay about ¥5 billion yen to purchase nearly half of Bals, which runs home-and-kitchen-furnishings retailer Francfranc. Chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp. (JP:6723) (RNECY) was a strong performer, rallying 5.3% after suffering a sizeable drop in the previous session. On the downside, shares of Softbank Corp. (JP:9984) (SFTBF) fell 0.9%, after a separate article in the Nikkei saying that previously reported plans by the firm to buy T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) through its newly acquired Sprint (S) unit would value the transaction at more than 2 trillion yen ($19 billion) and would take place as early as next spring. Auto-maker stocks were mixed after the release of Japanese car-sales data for November, with Toyota Motor Corp. (JP:7203) (TM) flat, Honda Motor Co. (JP:7267) (HMC) down 0.4%, Mitsubishi Motors
Top 5 Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In 2014: Lumos Networks Corp (LMOS)
Lumos Networks Corp. is a fiber-based service provider in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Company provides data, broadband, voice and Internet protocol (IP) services over fiber optic network. The Company offers a range of data and voice products supported by approximately 5,800 fiber-route miles in Virginia, West Virginia, and portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Kentucky. Its products and services include metro Ethernet, IP services, business advantage bundle, managed router service, broadband, voice services and Web hosting. On October 14, 2011, NTELOS Holdings Corp. announced a distribution date of October 31, 2011, for the spin-off of Lumos Networks Corp.
The Company’s broadband services include Business DSL, Dedicated Business Service, Managed Router Services, Business Broadband XL, Business PC Services and Web Hosting. Its IP services include Integrated Access, IP Trunking, IP Centrex and IP Phones. Its voice service include Business Voice, Busin ess Advantage Bundle, nTouch, Intelligent Messaging, Simultaneous Ring, Conference Calling and Long Distance. Its data services include Metro Ethernet and Quality of Service. Lumos Networks Business DSL provides up to six megabits per second downstream and one megabit per second upstream. Its managed router support service equipment includes staging, installation, configuration, and maintenance while support provides around-the-clock monitoring, management and trouble resolution and direct access to networking experts. Its Business Broadband XL offers a selection of high download speeds. Lumos Networks’ Integrated Access solution can integrate local voice, long distance, voicemail, and broadband Internet access. Lumos Networks nTouch brings voicemail linking IP Centrex and nTelos Wireless phone.
- [By Lee Jackson]
Lumos Networks Corp. (NASDAQ: LMOS) is a leading provider of fiber-based bandwidth infrastructure and IP services in key mid-Atlantic markets. It announced last month it had launched its cloud-based hosted call center solution, which provides best-in-class automated call distribution, integrated voice response and call reporting to help organizations manage call volumes more effectively and efficiently. The service operates over Lumos’s carrier-grade, premium optical network, which provides high-speed, resilient access to the call-center cloud service. The consensus price target for the stock is $20.50. Investors are paid a reasonable 2.7% dividend. Lumos closed Thursday at $20.77.
Top 5 Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In 2014: KongZhong Corp (HOA)
KongZhong Corporation, incorporated on May 6, 2002, is a provider of digital entertainment services for consumers in the People’s Republic of China. The Company operates in three main business units: Wireless Value-Added Services (WVAS), mobile games and Internet games. In addition to developing and operating its self-developed Internet games, such as Loong, Demon Code and Kung Fu Hero, it is an operator of the World of Tanks game for the People’s Republic of China Internet games market. In addition, it is also the licensee in the People’s Republic of China for the Guild Wars 2 game developed by ArenaNet, Offensive Combat game developed by U4iA Games and Hawken game developed by Meteor Entertainment.
The Company conducts substantially all of its business in the People’s Republic of China through its wholly owned subsidiaries KongZhong Beijing, KongZhong China and Simlife Beijing. It operates WVAS, mobile games and Internet games through Beijing AirInbo x, Beijing WINT, Beijing Chengxitong, BJXR, Mailifang, Xinreli and Dacheng, all of which are based in the People’s Republic of China.
Wireless Value-Added Services (WVAS) Business
The Company provides interactive entertainment, media and other interactive services to mobile phone users in China through various second generation (2G) standard, technology platforms, including short message services (SMS), Interactive Voice Response services (IVR) and color ring back tone (CRBT), and through various second and a half generation standard (2.5G), technology and operating platforms, including wireless application protocol (WAP) and multimedia messaging services (MMS), which offer graphics, richer content and more interactivity than 2G wireless services. Its WVAS are tailored to the technical or other requirements of its telecommunications operator partners, through whom it deliver most of its WVAS, and to various billing systems for WVAS. Its WVAS are a lso delivered and marketed through various media partners, i! ncluding handset manufacturers, television stations, radio stations, print media and Internet sites. Its WVAS revenues accounted for 41.7% of its total revenues during the year ended December 31, 2012.
The Company offers a variety of WVAS, such as mobile games, pictures, karaoke, electronic books, mobile phone personalization features, entertainment news, chat and message boards. It provides its services mainly pursuant to its cooperation arrangements with the telecommunications operators and their provincial subsidiaries, the terms of which are generally for one year or less.
Mobile Games Business
The Company is a developer and publisher of mobile games for mobile phone users in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The mobile games it develops include action, role-playing and leisure games. During 2012, it acquired Noumena, a developer of cross-platform smartphone mobile game engines.
Internet Games Business
< p>The Company develops Internet games internally based mainly on its technologies, which include its game engine (Dazzler three dimension (3D)), game development platforms and online game billing system, all developed by its internal team. In particular, its Dazzler 3D game engine enables the Company to create 3D graphics and visual effects, and provides the technical foundation for creating features in its games. Its game development platforms give the Company the capacity to develop Internet games within approximately six to 24 months and to update Its Internet games frequently in response to players’ preferences.
The Company uses an item-based revenue model for its games, whether internally developed or licensed, under which players can play its games on the Internet free of charge, but have to pay for purchases of in-game virtual items, such as in-game currencies, performance-enhancing clothing, weapons, accessories and pets. It distributes its electronic prepaid game cards and game points, which can be used to pur! chase in-! game virtual items, to players through multiple payment channels.
The Company competes with Sina Corporation, Sohu.com Inc., TOM Online Inc., Phoenix New Media Limited, Wireless Arts, Perfect World Co. Ltd, Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, Netease.com, Inc., Changyou.com Limited, Giant Interactive Group Inc. and Tencent Holdings Limited.
- [By Konrad Kuhn]
The company also has a minority interest in the privately-held Hooters of America (HOA), the operator and franchisor of over 430 Hooters restaurants; HOTR’s CEO Mike Pruitt is a member of the HOA Board of Directors.
Top 5 Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In 2014: T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS)
T-Mobile US, Inc., formerly MetroPCS Communications, Inc., incorporated on March 10, 2004, is a wireless telecommunications carrier, which offers wireless broadband mobile services primarily in metropolitan areas in the United States, including the Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando/Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco and Tampa/Sarasota metropolitan areas. Its flagship brands include T-Mobile and MetroPCS. As of December 31, 2012, it held licenses for wireless spectrum suitable for wireless broadband mobile services covering a total population of 144 million people in and around many of the metropolitan areas in the United States. It provides its services using code division multiple accesses (CDMA) networks using 1xRTT technology and evolution data optimized (EVDO) and fourth generation long term evolution (4G LTE).
The Company has roaming agreements with other wireless broadband mob ile carriers that allow them to offer its customers service in many areas when they are outside its service area. These roaming agreements, together with the area it serve with its own networks, allows its customers to receive service in an area covering over 280 million in total population under the Metro USA brand. The Company sells products and services to customers through its Company-owned retail stores, as well as indirectly through relationships with independent retailers and third party dealers. Its service allows its customers to place unlimited local calls from within its local service area and to receive unlimited calls from any area while in its service area, for a flat-rate monthly service fee. For additional usage fees, it also provide certain other value-added services. All of these plans require payment in advance for one month of service. If no payment is made in advance for month of service, service is suspended at the end of the month that was paid for by the customer and, if the customer does not pay within 30 day! s, the customer is terminated. It believes its service plans differentiate them from the more complex plans and long-term contract requirements of traditional wireless carriers.
The Company voice services allow customers to place voice calls to, and receive calls from, any telephone in the world, including local, domestic long distance, and international calls. Its voice services also allow customers to receive and make calls while they are located in areas served by its networks and in those geographic areas served by the networks of certain other wireless broadband mobile carriers with whom it has roaming arrangements. The Company’s data services include text messaging services (domestic and international); multimedia messaging services; mobile Internet access; mobile instant messaging; location-based services; social networking services; push e-mail; multimedia streaming and downloads; and services provided, depending on the network and locale, through the Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, or BREW, Blackberry, Windows, and the Android platforms, such as ringtones, ring back tones, games, content, and applications.
The Company’s Custom calling features offers custom calling features, including caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling and voicemail. Its Advanced handsets sells a variety of feature phones, and increasingly, smartphones, predominately manufactured by nationally recognized manufacturers for use on its network, including models that have cameras, include HTML browsers, play music, play streaming audio, display streaming video and downloaded video, and have other features facilitating digital data. It sells a variety of handsets using vendor or handset specific operating systems, such as BREW, Blackberry, Windows, and the Android operating system.
The Company provides its wireless broadband mobile services using paired personal communications services (PCS), spectrum and advanced wireless services, or AWS, spectrum. In addition, it holds a! license ! for 12 MHz of paired 700 MHz Lower Band A spectrum in the Boston-Worcester, MA/NH/RI/VT basic economic area (BEA), which, unless it receives a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), of the four year construction requirements, it plans to construct in the first half of 2013. In each of its metropolitan areas where irt provides service. As of December 31, 2012, it holds between 10 mega hertz (MHz) and 60 MHz of paired spectrum and on average it has approximately 22 MHz of paired spectrum in the metropolitan areas it serves. In the aggregate, as of December 31, 2012, it offers wireless broadband mobile services using its own network.
The Company operates 1xRTT CDMA networks in all of the metropolitan areas it serves and it has upgraded its networks to 4G LTE in all of metropolitan areas. It also has deployed EVDO at selected high use sites in its CDMA network to increase network data capacity to meet the growing data needs of iy customers. Its net work includes a mobile switching center (for CDMA), enhanced packet core (for 4G LTE), and IP core. These serve several purposes, including routing traffic, managing call handoffs, and managing access to the public switched telephone network (for CDMA) or the Internet (CDMA and 4G LTE). These network elements also provide access to voicemail and other value-added services, base stations (for CDMA) or eNodeBs (for 4G LTE), cell sites or distributed antenna system (DAS), nodes, and backhaul facilities, which carry traffic to and from its cell sites and its switching or enhanced packet core facilities, consisting of a combination of dedicated circuits, cable, fiber, and microwave facilities.
Its cell sites in the network are co-located, meaning its equipment is located on leased facilities that are owned by third parties who retain the right to lease the locations to additional carriers and in many cases other wireless broadband mobile service providers already hav e facilities at such locations. The switching centers and na! tional op! erations center provide around-the-clock monitoring of its network. Its switches connect to the public switched telephone network through fiber rings leased from third-parties, which transmit originating and terminating traffic between its equipment and local exchange and long distance carriers. It also has negotiated interconnection agreements with relevant local exchange carriers, or LECs, in its service areas. It uses third-party providers for domestic and international long distance services, international SMS interconnection with the public switched network and other carriers, roaming services, and the majority of its backhaul services.
The Company competes with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA , Deutsche Telekom, Clearwire, Dish Network , Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications, Cricket Communications, Leap Wireless International and Google.
- [By Evan Niu, CFA and Erin Kennedy]
Recently, T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS ) has been shaking things up in the domestic wireless industry with its “Uncarrier” strategies. However, the company’s latest move seems somewhat removed from this philosophy, and has caused some backlash among consumers. While T-Mobile has made pricing transparency a priority, CEO John Legere just announced that the company is getting rid of its corporate employer rate plan discounts. While this could make prices more transparent, it could also cause them to go up significantly for a large number of T-Mobile users.
- [By Live investor]
The U.S. telecom is by and large dominated by Verizon and AT&T, while Sprint and T-Mobile (TMUS) are distant competitors; thanks to their size. Son understands it quite well that Sprint, in isolation, stands little chance to challenge the likes of the top two. It’s only when it would combine with T-Mobile and win the confidence of others that the company would be able to fight the larger rivals.