Top Telecom Companies For 2014

On Jul 11, 2013, we reiterated our long-term recommendation on DDR Corp. (DDR) – a retail real estate investment trust (REIT) – ­­at Neutral. The decision is based on its strong fundamentals and successful portfolio repositioning activity in the past quarters. However, DDR’s significant development pipeline and its reliance on few tenants remains our matter of concern.

Why the Reiteration?

DDR has a well-diversified portfolio, concentrated mostly in prosperous regions. This drives value and mitigates operating risks by generating relatively steady revenues over the past years. In addition, its ongoing aggressive capital recycling program through strategic asset management is expected to be accretive to its earnings going forward. Also, the company has a healthy balance sheet with adequate liquidity.

However, DDR’s active development pipeline exposes it to various risks such as rising construction costs, entitlement delays and lease-ups. This remains a plausible concern for the company, going forward. In addition, DDR relies only on a few chief tenants – such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and The TJX Companies, Inc. (TJX) – for annualized rental revenue generation. Therefore, it is subject to risks resulting from any changes in these tenants’ business and financial condition.

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: Sprint Corp (S&LS)

Sprint Corporation, incorporated on May 10, 2012, offers a range of wireless and wireline communications services to consumers, businesses and government users. On July 10, 2013, the Company, SoftBank Corp. and Sprint Nextel Corporation (Sprint Nextel) completed the merger. In the Merger, Sprint Corporation was merged into Sprint Nextel, New Sprint became the parent company of Sprint Nextel, with Sprint Nextel becoming its direct wholly owned subsidiary, and Sprint Nextel changed its name to Sprint Communications, Inc.

The Company develops, engineers and deploys technologies, including the first wireless fourth generation (4G) service from a national carrier in the United States; offering mobile data services, prepaid brands, including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities, and a global Tier 1 Internet Service. The Company also offers unlimited data services.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Since Wilmers & Co. took over M&T Bank in 1983 the bank has acquired 23 banks and Savings and Loans (S&Ls) – expanding from a single state to seven – and assets have grown from $2 billion to $110 billion. M&T’s branch count has grown from 60 to over 870. The bank currently boasts a customer base of over 2 million retail household customers and nearly 220,000 commercial customers.

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: Virgin Media Inc.(VMED)

Virgin Media Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides entertainment and communications services in the United Kingdom. The company offers cable broadband Internet, television, and fixed line telephone services under the Virgin Media brand to residential customers; mobile telephony services through Virgin Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator; broadband and telephone services to residential customers through third-party telecommunications networks; and video on demand services, including access to movies, television programs, music videos, and other on-demand content, as well as provides digital video recorders. It also offers voice, data, and Internet solutions to commercial customers comprising analog telephony and managed data networks and applications, as well as supplies communications services to health and emergency services providers. As of December 31, 2011, the company provided cable broadband services to approximately 4 million subscribers; cable television s ervices to approximately 3.76 million residential subscribers; cable telephony services to approximately 4.2 million residential subscribers; mobile telephony services to approximately 3 million customers; non-cable fixed line telephone services to approximately 163,300 subscribers; and voice, data, and Internet solutions to approximately 50,000 businesses and 250 public sector organizations. The company offers its products and services through telesales, customer care centers, and online, as well as through its sales force. It serves mobile and fixed-line service providers, systems integrators, and Internet service providers; and private and public sector organizations. The company was formerly known as NTL Incorporated and changed its name to Virgin Media Inc. in February 2007. The company was founded in 1993 and is based in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tim Brugger]

    Upon Liberty Global’s (NASDAQ: LBTYA  ) successfully closing its acquisition of Virgin Media (NASDAQ: VMED  ) , Tom Mockridge will assume CEO responsibilities of the U.K. communications firm, Liberty Global announced today.

  • [By Markos Kaminis]

    Whether the stock is overvalued or not does not matter at this point, because an impact to its subscriber base due to the data sharing news would probably change market expectations for the company’s operations and affect both earnings estimates and valuation multiples. It would probably drive the shares lower in my view, and I see no reason to risk that by holding the stock. Long-term holders, of course, have tax considerations to consider, and the news is still filing out. If Verizon’s peers are also implicated clearly, perhaps with the aid of a Verizon PR push, this issue would be effectively mitigated. Though even in that case, there could be market share loss by all major American firms, with companies like T-Mobile US (TMUS) and Virgin Media (VMED) benefiting, whether they have also been involved or not. In any event, for new stakeholders, or those willing to deal with tax implications; or for those interested in a potential short opportunity, I would sell the stock today. I see no reason to bear risk while this issue and its implications are still unraveling, and while VZ has thus far not been significantly discounted for it.

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: Harris Corporation (HRS)

Harris Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a communications and information technology company that serves government and commercial markets worldwide. It operates in three segments: RF Communications, Government Communications Systems, and Broadcast Communications. The RF Communications segment designs, develops, and manufactures secure radio communications products and systems for manpack, handheld, soldier-worn, vehicular, strategic fixed-site, and shipboard applications that operate in various radio frequency bands. It also offers products and solutions ranging from wireless network infrastructure solutions to portable and mobile single-band and multiband radios, and public safety-grade broadband video and data solutions for the public safety, federal, utility, commercial, and transportation markets. The Government Communications Systems segment develops, supplies, and integrates communications and information processing products, systems, and netw orks for aerospace, terrestrial, and maritime applications supporting department of defense missions. This segment also provides mission-critical communications and information processing systems for the U.S. civilian Federal market, as well as offers IT transformation, managed, and information assurance solutions. The Broadcast Communications segment provides workflow, infrastructure, and networking solutions that enable media companies to streamline workflow from production through transmission; media solutions to manage digital media workflow through software solutions for advertising, media management, digital signage, broadband, digital asset management, and play-out automation; and transmission systems for delivery of media over wireless broadcast terrestrial networks. The company also offers healthcare IT solutions, IT compliance solutions, and mission-critical managed satellite communications services. Harris Corporation was founded in 1895 and is based in Melbourne , Florida.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Smith]

    The JSOW is a Raytheon-designed 1000-lb. “glide bomb.” Dropped from a fighter at high altitude, it can travel as far as 78 miles to strike a target, guided en route by GPS signals.

    Harris Corp (NYSE: HRS  ) was awarded a modification to a firm-fixed-price contract requiring it to supply two counter communications system (CCS) Block 10 increment 1 system upgrades by July 25, 2014.

    CCS is a land-based system designed by Northrop Grumman, the purpose of which is to jam an enemy’s satellite communications.

  • [By Rich Smith]

    Media reports say that the average time needed to process a claim for VA benefits has grown to 272 days. But now, the agency says it’s finally going to do something about this. On Tuesday, communications contractor Harris (NYSE: HRS  ) announced that it has won a four-year, $37 million contract to try to bring the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Enterprise Data Warehouse, the primary source for veterans’ benefits data and information, into the 21st century. 

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: China Unicom (CHU)

China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (Unicom), incorporated on February 8, 2000, is an integrated telecommunications operator in China providing mobile voice and value-added, fixed-line voice and fixed-line broadband, data communications and other telecommunications services to its customers. The Company operates in two business segments consisting of mobile services and fixed-line services. The Company is engaged in global system for mobile communications (GSM) and wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) cellular business in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China, the provision of fixedline voice, broadband and other Internet-related services, information and communications technology services, business and data communications services, and other related telecommunication value-added businesses. As of 30 June 2011, Unicom Group held 57.81% of the shares in the Company through China United Network Communications Limited (A Share Company), China Uni com (BVI) Limited and China Netcom Group Corporation (BVI) Limited, and Telefonica Internacional S.A.U. held 9.01% of the shares in the Company.

Mobile Business

Unicom’s mobile business consists of GSM and third generation (3G) mobile business. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had a total of 167.43 million mobile subscribers. As of December 31, 2010, its total number of mobile subscribers included 167.43 million. Unicom operates the 3G business based on the WCDMA technology nationwide in China. As of December 31, 2010, the total number of its 3G subscribers included 14.06 million, and had 1.35 million wireless data card subscribers, 2.41 million mobile television (TV) subscribers and over seven million mobile reading subscribers. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the total 3G voice usage was 55.47 billion minutes and the average data usage per subscriber per month was 178M. GSM mobile business primarily consists of GSM voice business an d value-added business.

The Company’s mobile ! voice business enables its subscribers to make and receive phone calls with a mobile handset at any point within the coverage area of its mobile telecommunications networks. Its mobile voice business includes local calls, domestic long distance calls, international long distance calls, intra-provincial roaming, inter-provincial roaming and international roaming. As of December 31, 2010, the Company’s total number of GSM mobile subscribers was 153.37 million. Unicom offers a range of GSM value-added services nationwide, including short message service (SMS), Cool Ringtone (a personalized ring-back tone service), mobile Internet and other wireless information services. During 2010, a total of 78.31 billion SMSs were transmitted by its GSM mobile subscribers. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had a total number of 67.26 million subscribers to its Cool Ringtone service. In addition, as of December 31, 2010, it had a total number of 55.81 million mobile Internet subscribers.

Fixed-Line Business

Unicom is a fixed-line broadband and communications operator in northern China. The Company offers a range of fixed-line services nationwide in China, including fixed-line broadband services and data communications services; fixed-line voice services, include local and long distance fixed-line voice services and value-added services, and other services. The Company is a provider of fixed-line broadband services in its fixed-line northern service region. Unicom is a provider of data communications services in its fixed-line northern service region. It offers managed data products, such as those based on digital data networks (DDN), frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and Internet protocol-virtual private network (IP-VPN). The Company also offers leased line products, including domestic and international leased circuits. Its customers for these services include government entities, large financial institutions and other domestic and multinational businesses, Internet service prov! iders and! other telecommunications operators.

As of December 31, 2010, the Company had established business cooperation relationships with more than 160 overseas operators to provide various international data communications products and services, such as international voice and data services. During 2010, it continued to offer full-scale data communications services to international operators and domestic and international corporate customers. The Company’s fixed-line voice services consist of local voice, domestic long distance, international long distance, value-added, interconnection and personal handyphone system (PHS) services. In addition to fixed-line telephone voice services, it offers a range of value-added services on its fixed-line networks. The Company’s fixed-line, value-added services include Personalized Ring and caller identification services. Personalized Ring services enable its fixed-line subscribers to personalize the ring-back tone for incoming calls. As of December 31, 2010, the number of its Personalized Ring subscribers reached 23.79 million.

Interconnection and Roaming Arrangements

The Company earns interconnection fees for terminating or transiting calls that originate from other domestic telecommunications operators’ networks and pay interconnection fees to other operators for calls originating from its networks that are terminated on their networks. It earns and pays such fees in respect of mobile calls, local and domestic and international long distance calls and Internet services, except for the interconnection by fixed-line subscribers calling its mobile subscribers in the same region where no interconnection fee will be charged.

The Company provides roaming services, which allow its subscribers to access its mobile services while they are physically outside of their registered service area or in the coverage areas of other mobile networks in other countries and re gions with which it has roaming arrangements. As of April 30! , 2011, U! nicom had roaming arrangements for GSM international voice and SMS services with 242 operators in 521 countries and regions; GPRS international inbound data services with 179 operators in 400 countries and regions and for international GPRS outbound data services with 164 operators in 357 countries and regions, and 3G services with 104 WCDMA operators in 245 countries and regions.

Mobile Networks

The Company’s mobile network consists of cell sites, which are physical locations, each equipped with a base station that houses transmitters, receivers and other equipment used to communicate through radio channels with subscribers’ mobile handsets within the range of a cell; base station controllers, which connect to, and control, the base stations, and mobile switching centers, which control the base station controllers and the routing of telephone calls. Its mobile network also consists of a transmission network, which links the mobile switching cen ters, base station controllers, base stations and the public switched telephone network. It has deployed GSM and WCDMA mobile networks. The Company’s GSM mobile network mainly operates at 900 megahertz. It has also deployed GSM technology that operates at 1,800 megahertz in metropolitan areas to supplement the capacity of its existing mobile network. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had approximately 329,000 GSM base stations.

The Company competes with China Mobile and China Telecom.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Charles Sizemore]

    Like Telenor, Telefonica is a classic “emerging markets lite” investment in that it is headquartered in a well-regulated European market yet gets the bulk of its revenues from emerging markets. About half of Telefonica’s operating profits come from Latin America. Telefonica also owns about 5% of China Unicom (CHU), China’s second-largest telecom operator.

  • [By Jim Woods]

    China Telecom (CHA) has seen its shares fall more than 16% over the past year, with much of that coming in 2014. China Unicom (CHU) stock has slumped 9% in the past 52 weeks, thanks to a 12% decline year-to-date.

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    HONG KONG (MarketWatch)– Hong Kong stocks rose early Thursday, as China Mobile Ltd. shined on news of iPhone pre-orders hitting 1 million units. The Hang Seng Index (HK:HSI) added 0.6% to 23,032.09. Market heavyweight China Mobile (HK:941) (CHL) rallied 0.9%, as the world’s largest mobile carrier said it has received more than 1 million pre-orders for the iPhone before it goes on sale in the carrier’s stores on Friday, at a time when Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Tim Cook visited Beijing for future cooperation between the two giants. Telecom equipment shares also advanced, with ZTE Corp. (HK:763) (ZTCOF) rising 1.2%. Meanwhile, China Mobile’s smaller rivals slipped, as China Unicom (HK:762) (CHU) dropped 0.7%, and China Telecom (HK:738) (CNCT) fell 0.5%. China South City Holdings (HK:1668) , a developer of logistics and trade centers, surged 56%, after the company announced that Internet giant Tencent Holdings (HK:700) (TCTZF) would invest about 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($195 million) for an almost 10% stake in the developer in order to expand their business online, including e-commerce and online payment services. Tencent Holdings (HK:700)

  • [By David Goldman]

    Until now, Apple had sold the iPhone there through China Mobile’s much-smaller competitors, China Unicom (CHU)and China Telecom (CHA), which have about 425 million subscribers between them.

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: Telecom Italia SpA (TIT)

Telecom Italia SpA is an Italy-based company engaged in the communications sector. It operates in the fixed and mobile national and international telecommunications sector. Its activities are divided into five business units. The Domestic unit provides telephone and data services on fixed line and mobile networks for retail voice customers and wholesale operators, as well as develop fiber optic networks. The Brazil unit offers mobile services using Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technologies. The Argentina unit operates in fixed telecommunications through Telecom Argentina and in mobile telecommunications through Telecom Personal, and in Paraguay it operates in mobile telecommunications through Nucleo. The Media unit produces of multimedia music platforms, satellite channels and television broadcasting platforms. The Olivetti unit operates in the sector of office products and services for Information Technol ogy. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Zahra Hankir]

    Brazil’s Ibovespa extended its weekly decline to 3.3 percent. Mobile carrier Tim Participacoes SA (TIMP3) sank after parent Telecom Italia SpA (TIT)’s chief executive officer said its Brazilian assets are strategic, damping speculation the local unit will be sold.

  • [By Sarah Jones]

    Telecom Italia SpA (TIT) increased 6.3 percent to 61.4 euro cents. The Italian phone company that’s exploring a separation of its fixed-line assets is considering a sale of an initial 30 percent stake in the new company to state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, two people familiar with the matter said.

Top Telecom Companies For 2014: Neustar Inc (NSR)

NeuStar, Inc., incorporated on December 8, 1998, is a provider of real-time information and analysis. The Company operates in three segments: carrier services, enterprise services and information services. The Company combines data sets to develop algorithms, models, point solutions and complete work flow solutions. The Company provides services, such as database services (telephone number databases, domain names, short-codes and fixed Internet protocol (IP) addresses), analytics platforms used for Internet security services, caller identification services, Web performance monitoring services and real-time information and analytics services. In October 2013, Neustar, Inc acquired Aggregate Knowledge, Inc.

Carrier Services

The Company’s carrier services include numbering services, order management services and IP services. Its numbering services enable the dynamic routing of calls and text messages. In particular, the Company provides near real- time updates to the North American telephone numbering system that is essential for the accurate routing of telephone calls and text messages. In addition, it also facilitates order management and work-flow processing among carriers, including telephone number inventory management, and allow carriers to manage and optimize the addressing and routing of IP communications. The numbering services the Company provides to its carrier customers using these databases include number portability administration center services (NPAC Services), in the United States and Canada and local number portability (LNP), services in Taiwan and Brazil, or international LNP solutions, and number inventory and allocation management. The Company’s order management services permit its carrier customers to exchange essential operating information with multiple carriers in order to provision and manage services. The Company provides these services through a single interface or on-premise installation s. In addition, it offers inventory management services that! allow its carrier customers to manage their assigned telephone numbers and associated resources. The Company provides scalable IP services to global carriers and service providers that allow them to manage access for the routing of IP communications, such as multimedia messaging service. Its solutions also provide accurate and reliable routing of text messages and voice calls by identifying terminating service provider networks. In addition, it provides a solution for carriers to migrate from the public switched telephone network to IP Interconnect through mapping a phone number to an IP address for accurate and reliable routing to a carrier’s network.

Enterprise Services

The Company’s Enterprise Services include Internet infrastructure services and registry services. It provides Internet infrastructure services that its customers use in order to direct, prioritize and manage Internet traffic. In addition, enterprise customers rely on its ser vices to optimize their Website performance, including protecting against malicious traffic. Enterprises use its infrastructure and its datasets to identify the location of their online customers for a variety of purposes, including fraud prevention and marketing. It also operates the authoritative common short codes registry on behalf of the United States wireless industry. The Company provides a suite of domain name systems (DNS) services to its enterprise customers built on a global directory platform. These services play a key role in directing and managing Internet traffic flow, resolving Internet queries, providing security protection against distributed denial of service attacks, providing geolocation services used to enhance fraud prevention and online marketing, and monitoring, testing and measuring the performance of Websites and networks. The Company operates the authoritative registries of Internet domain names for the .biz, .us, .co, .tel and .travel top-level d omains. It also provides international registry gateways for! China’! s .cn and Taiwan’s .tw country-code top-level domains. All Internet communications routed to any of these domains must query a copy of its directory to ensure that the communication is routed to the appropriate destination. The Company also operates the authoritative common short codes registry on behalf of the United States wireless industry. In addition, it operates the user authentication and rights management system, which supports the UltraViolet digital content locker that consumers use to access their entertainment content.

Information Services

The Company’s Information Services include identification services, verification and analytics services, and local search and licensed data services. It utilizes databases and solutions to inform real-time decisions on customer initiated interactions over the telephone, Internet and at points of sale. Its services correlate attributes, such as demographic information, projected buying behaviors and location. Its business listings identity management services manage the placement of its customers’ online local business listings on search engines, improving brand awareness and targeted advertising. The Company provides Caller ID services to carriers in the United States and real-time identification and location services to over 1,000 businesses in the United States across multiple industries. Its location service enables clients to match a 10-digit phone number to a latitude and longitude, and is used for a number of applications, including intelligent site planning, market scoring, and Web-based location lookup. In addition, it provides services that enable clients to remarket to non-converting prospects and to help identify whether an inbound inquiry is coming from an existing customer or a prospect. The Company provides lead verification services that allow clients to validate customer data, enhance leads and assign a lead quality rating to each lead to provide a c lient the ability to contact a customer. The Company provide! s an onli! ne local business listing identity management solution that serves local search platforms, national brands, authorized channel partners and local businesses. This service provides businesses and channel partners the essential tools to verify, enhance and manage the identity of local listings on local search platforms across the Web, and offers local search platforms an accurate, complete and up-to-date database of local business listings for online publishing.

The Company competes with Accenture plc, Computer Sciences Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, International Business Machines Corporation, Noblis, Inc., Nortel Networks Corporation, Pearson Education, Inc., Perot Systems Corporation, Telcordia Technologies, Inc., VeriSign, Inc., Afilias Limited, Oracle Corporation, Synchronoss Technologies, Inc., Syniverse Technologies, Inc., Akamai Technologies, Inc., F5 Networks, Inc., Keynote Systems, Inc., Compuware Corporation, TNS, Inc., eBureau, LLC, Acxiom, Nie lsen Holdings N.V., DataLogix International Inc. and infoGROUP Inc.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Damian Illia]

    The company’s revenues come from the fees charged for operating different domain names. Most domain names’ fees are charged as per agreement terms with ICANN; however, fees received for operating the .gov registry are based on the terms of agreement with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). As of September 2013, revenues of $125.9 million came from active domain names ending with .com and .net. Even though the company has presence all over the globe, the U.S. contributes 64.8% of revenues, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) contribute 15.5%, Australia, China, India and other Asia Pacific countries (APAC), 15.0%, and other countries such as Canada or Latin American countries, contribute 4.7%. Competition is increasing, especially with Latin script ccTLD registries and IDN ccTLD registries, as well as with other name service providers such as Neustar Inc. (NSR) or ARI Registry Services, and search engine providers such as Google Inc. (GOOG) Micros oft, Corp. (MSFT).

  • [By Magic Diligence]

    Short sellers have been mouthing off about GameStop since at least 2008, and all the stock did was go up – all the way to a high of over $55 back in October. So forgive me if I’m not sold on digital distribution and smartphone gaming “killing” the company just yet! There were 2 catalysts for the recent drop. One, the stock was probably overvalued in the $50’s, considering its less-than-stellar growth prospects. Two, the firmreported a 22.5% drop in new software sales during the holidays. That’s not great, but console transitions have historically caused disruptions in software sales. In the meantime, GameStop continues to buy back large amounts of shares and the dividend yield is now over 3%. WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION.

    Neustar (NSR) – down 31.3%

    We’ve written about Neustar recently, with a positive opinion of the company. However, I also commented that the number portability contract renewal was a key risk. That risk looks even more acute considering the firm’s comments about a second proposal being rejected by NAPM. It is rather mind-boggling that management would goof on such an important piece of business – it is well over half of the company’s revenue. But a Neustar without that contract is an entirely different company altogether, and the risks are too large now. PASS.