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Telecom Stock Roundup: U.S. Regional Telecom Operators Disappoint in Q1, Cablevision Impresses

Last week, most of the major telecom stocks traded in the green despite several important regional telecom operators reporting disappointing first-quarter 2016 financial results. At the same time, the U.S. telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the regulatory nod to two major merger deals in the cable MSO (multi-service operator) segment.

On the earnings front, Cincinnati Bell Inc. CBB, United States Cellular Corp. USM and Telephone & Data Systems Inc. TDS reported weak financial results with both the top and the bottom line lagging the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate. Windstream Holdings Inc. WIN posted a mixed bag in which the quarterly loss was narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate while revenues were short of the mark.

As of Mar 31, 2016, Cincinnati Bell had 0.2131 million residential local access lines and 0.3159 million business local access lines. Long distance lines were 0.334 million. DSL Internet subscribers were 0.1279 million. Fioptics Internet customers were 0.1645 million, and Fioptics video subscribers were 0.120 million.

Meanwhile, U.S. Cellular exited the first-quarter 2016 with a subscriber base of 4,926,000 compared with 4,775,000 at the end of the year-ago quarter. Postpaid subscriber base was 4,454,000 and prepaid subscriber base totaled 399,000. In the reported quarter, U.S. Cellular added a net of 45,000 postpaid subscribers and 12,000 prepaid customers.

Likewise, at the end of the first quarter, Telephone & Data Systems had 585,800 wireline residential customers, 337,900 wireline commercial customers and 284,400 cable connections. Wireline residential revenue per connection stood at $43.28.

Windstream Holdings, however, lost 4% of its high-speed Internet customers and 8% of its digital television subscribers in the reported quarter. At the end of the quarter, the company had 1,430,700 residential customers.

Encouragingly, leading cable MSO Cablevision Systems Corp. CVC reported strong financial results in the first quarter of 2016 wherein both top and bottom lines outpaced the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate.As of Mar 31, 2016, Cablevision had 2.579 million video subscribers, 2.828 million high-speed data subscribers and 2.185 million voice subscribers. In the reported quarter, the company lost 15,000 video and 8,000 voice customers but gained 19,000 high-speed data customers.

Notably, the FCC has cleared regulatory hurdles related to the proposed merger of Cablevision Systems and Altice N.V. The deal size is around $17.7 billion. In a separate development, the FCC has approved Charter Communications Inc.’s CHTR proposed acquisitions of Time Warner Cable Inc. TWC and Bright House Networks LLC. The combined deal size is approximately $79 billion.

Outside the U.S., leading Canadian integrated telecom operator TELUS Corp. TU reported weak financial results in the first quarter of 2016. Both revenues and earnings lagged the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Net wireless subscriber loss at TELUS in the reported quarter was 25,000. Postpaid customer net addition was 8,000 but prepaid customer net loss was 33,000. As of Mar 31, 2016, TELUS had 8.387 million wireless subscribers. Postpaid users were 7.315 million while the prepaid user count was 1.072 million.

During the reported quarter, TELUS added 11,000 TV subscribers, taking the count to 1,016,000 customers. High-speed Internet subscriber addition was 12,000, reaching 1.599 million. Total wireline subscriber count was 4.056 million.

Read the last Telecom Stock Roundup for May 05, 2016.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1.    Cablevision Systems’ first quarter 2016 GAAP net income was $94.4 million or 34 cents per share compared with $44.6 million or 16 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. First-quarter earnings per share significantly surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 17 cents.Total revenue in the reported quarter came in at $1,640.8 million, up 1.6% year over year and ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,631 million (read more: Cablevision Systems Tops Q1 Earnings and Revenues).

2.    On a GAAP basis, quarterly net income of Cincinnati Bell came in at $4.4 million or 2 cents per share compared with a net income of $46.6 million or 22 cents in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted (excluding special items) earnings per share of 1 cent also fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 3 cents. Quarterly total revenue was $288.9 million, down 1.4% year over year and below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $293 million (read more:Cincinnati Bell Lags Q1 Earnings, Keeps 2016 View).

3.    In first-quarter 2016, GAAP net income of United States Cellular came in at $9 million or 10 cents per share compared with a net income of $160 million or $1.89 in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly earnings per share of 10 cents failed to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 23 cents. Total revenues of $958 million were down 0.7% year over year and also lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $972 million (read more:US Cellular Down on Q1 Earnings and Revenue Miss).

4.    GAAP net income of Telephone & Data Systems in the first quarter of 2016 was $8 million or 7 cents per share compared with $146 million or $1.33 in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly earnings per share of 7 cents were significantly below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 14 cents. Revenues also fell 0.7% year over year to $1,243 million in the reported quarter, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,253 million (read more:Telephone & Data Systems Down on Q1 Earnings Miss).

5.    On a GAAP basis, net loss of Windstream Holdings was $231.9 million or a loss of $2.52 per share, as against net income of $5.3 million or 5 cents in the year-ago quarter. On an adjusted basis, the company reported a loss per share of 23 cents, considerably narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 54 cents. Pro forma revenues dipped 3% year over year to $1,373.4 million in the first quarter, marginally below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,378.8 million (read more: Windstream Reports Narrower-than-Expected Q1 Loss).

Price Performance

The following table shows the price movement of the major telecom players over the past week and the last six months.

Company

Last Week

Last 6 Months

VZ

0.61%

15.46%

T

0.77%

22.17%

S

0.58%

-12.75%

TMUS

4.40%

9.14%

VOD

1.21%

-4.00%

CHL

-1.15%

-4.84%

AMX

-2.43%

-20.99%

CMCSA

1.94%

1.75%

DISH

3.08%

-23.99%

Over the last five trading sessions, share price movement of the major telecom stocks was predominantly positive. T-Mobile US (4.40%) and DISH Network (3.08%) gained substantially while America Movil (2.43%) lost maximum value in the same time frame.

On the other hand, over the last six months, the price performance of most of the key telecom stocks witnessed a mixed trend. Among the stocks that depreciated most were DISH Network (23.99%), America Movil (20.99%) and Sprint (12.75%). On the contrary, AT&T (22.17%) and Verizon (15.46%) gained significantly over the last six months.

What’s Next in the Telecom Sector?

We do not foresee any significant change in the telecom industry, nor do we see any macroeconomic factors affecting the industry in the coming week. Therefore, we expect stocks to trade in line with the broader market movement.  

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TELUS CORP (TU): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CINCINNATI BELL (CBB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
TELEPHONE &DATA (TDS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CABLEVISION SYS (CVC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
TIME WARNER CAB (TWC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
WINDSTREAM HLDG (WIN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
US CELLULAR (USM): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CHARTER COMM-A (CHTR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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