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Shaw Communications Slips due to Competition, Cost Woes

On April 7, 2016, Zacks Investment Research downgraded Canadian cable TV behemoth Shaw Communications, Inc. SJR to a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

At present, Shaw Communications offers wireline telephony, high-speed Internet and video services to residential and business enterprises through its fiber optic, WiFi and cable TV services. Notably, Shaw Communications is consistently working toward the expansion of its WiFi network. The company currently serves around 3.2 million customers and has installed about 75,000 WiFi hotspots.

Recently, Shaw Communications ventured into the Canadian wireless market with the acquisition of 100% interest in Mid-Bowline Group Corp., the parent company of WIND Mobile Corp., for an enterprise value of approximately C$1.6 billion (around $1.16 billion). The acquisition of WIND Mobile provides Shaw Communications the necessary economies of scale, crucial spectrums, a strong retail distribution chain and an installed base of wireless networks. With WIND Mobile in its kitty, we believe, Shaw Communications will be in a position to offer quad-play wireline telephony, high-speed Internet, video and wireless services similar to that offered by the other large telecom operators in Canada.

Moreover, Shaw Communications recently completed the divesture of its wholly owned broadcasting subsidiary, Shaw Media Inc. to Corus Entertainment Inc. in a cash and stock deal worth C$2.65 billion (roughly $1.86 billion). The deal positions Shaw Communications as a top pure-play telecommunications company with a solid growth profile.

However, Shaw Communications is persistently losing video cable and video satellite customers owing to rising competition. The Canadian wireless market is predominantly controlled by three big players, namely, Rogers Communications Inc. RCI, TELUS Corp TU and BCE Inc BCE. Together, these three firms control around 90% of the total market. Despite the fact that WIND Mobile is the fourth largest wireless operator, its current scale of operations is considerably behind the three wireless giants.

Also, rolling out of new brands and advertising promotions is likely to escalate expenses going ahead. The company also expects additional network fees in the forthcoming quarters. These combined costs will tend to adversely impact margins, going ahead.

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