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Telecoms Outpace Tech Stocks In July; For How Long?

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Tech stocks might have led indexes to new highs this year, but in July, telecoms displaced tech stocks as the leading S&P 500 performers. Telecoms rose 5.1%, eclipsing the tech sector’s 4.1% gain and doubling the S&P 500’s gains, according to The Financial Times.

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While tech stock showed weakening signs, investors favored AT&T Inc. The Financial Times noted strong results from both AT&T and Verizon this past week that compensated for concerns about heightened competition from smaller players like Spring Corp. and T-Mobile US.

Verizon

Verizon

Verizon operates in 150 countries and is the world’s second largest telecom behind China Mobile Ltd., and the largest in the United States, according to Investopedia.

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Its market value was estimated at $191.72 billion as of April 2017, with of $131.8 billion, according to Forbes. The company formed in 2000 as a result of a merger between Bell Atlantic Corp and GTE Corp. In 2015, Verizon acquired AOL following a purchase the previous year of Vodafone’s 45% interest stake in Verizon stock.

Verizon reported second quarter revenue that surpassed expectations last week as the company attracted more subscribers with its unlimited data plan.

In the quarter, Verizon added 614,000 subscribers, including tablet customers, compared to an increase of 615,000 in the year-earlier period. The additions exceeded the JPMorgan estimate of 115,000 and consensus expectations of 70,000, JPMorgan analysts said in a research note.

Second quarter net income rose to $4.36 billion, or $1.07 per share, from $702 million, 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total operating revenue rose to $30.55 billion from $30.53 billion a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings per share of 96 cents on revenue of $29.91 billion are expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

AT&T

AT&T

AT&T Inc. is the world’s third largest telecom and the second largest in the U.S. with a market value of $245.58 billion. The company provides voice services in more than 200 countries and has more than 34,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. According to its website, AT&T serves more than 355 million people. It recently expanded AT&T GigaPower, a fast Internet service, to 56 metropolitan locations in the U.S., with plans for further expansion. In 2006, the company acquired BellSouth. In 2014, it purchased DirecTV $48.5 billion, allowing the company to provide customers the option to bundle more services into the same package.

AT&T Inc.’s stock looks poised to regain its 2017 high after the company on Tuesday delivered its first earnings bear in five quarters, noted investorplace.com. The stock rose as much as 3% in the after-hour session Tuesday, breaking above $37 on strong volume due to better-than- expected second quarter of 2017 results.

The company’s second-quarter earnings were 79 cents per share, up from 72 cents a year ago, with revenue declining 1.7% to $39.8 billion. Wall Street was looking for a profit of 74 cents on $39.80 billion in revenue. Wireless revenue was flat at $9.73 billion, while legacy voice and data service revenue declined by about 16% year over year to $3.5 billion.

AT&T was still able to meet expectations even as it continues to scale back in consumer mobility and legacy wirelines business.

Telecom Competition Intensifies

Telecom competitors expanded consumers’ access to unlimited data plans, The Financial Times noted. Colby Synesael, a Cowen analyst, said a rebound in subscriber metrics unexpectedly boosted the telecom industry’s wireless revenue, which surpassed analysts’ estimates.

Whether Level 3 Communications and CenturyLink continue to rise could depend on quarterly results released following Wednesday’s close of trading.

Level 3 Communications

LVLT

Level 3 Communications Inc. reported strong results for the second quarter as its bottom and top lines beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Net income on a GAAP basis in the quarter was $154 million, 42 cents per share, compared to $156 million or 44 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. But quarterly adjusted earnings per share of 42 cents outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 39 cents. The bottom line declined 19.23%.

Total second-quarter 2017 revenue was $2,061 million, up 0.24% year over year and above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,059.5 million.

Century Link Inc.

CTL

CenturyLink Inc. had mixed results in the second quarter of 2017. The bottom line fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate, while the top line surpassed it.

CenturyLink’s second quarter net income was $17 million or 3 cents per share, compared to $196 million or 36 cents in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings per share of 46 cents missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 49 cents. In addition, the bottom line fell 26.98% on a year-over-year basis.

Second quarter operating revenue was $4,090 million compared to $4,398 million in the prior-year quarter. The decline can be attributed to a drop in legacy revenues and the revenue reduction from the colocation sale effective May 1. But the top line surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,085 million.

Quarterly operating expenses were $3,723 million, down 1% year over year. Operating income, meanwhile decreased to $367 million from $647 million in second-quarter 2016. Operating income margin was 9.0% versus 14.7% in the year-ago quarter.

Adjusted EBITDA excluding special items fell to $1,316 million from $1,634 million in 2016’s second quarter on account of a decline in operating revenues. Lower operating expenses partially offset the decline. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 32.2% versus 37.2% in the year-ago quarter.

Are Telecoms Bargains?

Investors could be bargain hunting the sector since the telecom index is one of only two wider sectors to post declines so far in 2017, the other being energy. Energy posted slight gains in July, pushed by a rise in crude prices that bottomed out in June.

Telecom’s surge stems in part from being undervalued when highly valued tech stocks have slowed or fallen as investors reconsider the market’s outlook. The next sustained decline could test whether telecoms have longer staying power or fall with other sectors.

To evaluate a telecom, it is important to consider metrics affecting that industry, according to Investopedia.

Telecom Evaluation Metrics

Average return per user (ARPU) is critical for telecoms because it illustrates a company’s operational performance. The company’s ability to maximize profits and minimize costs involved in servicing customers is important. Since these companies are service providers rather than product manufacturers, investors must consider marginal profit and cost per unit to determine how well the company uses its resources. The higher the average return, the better.

Telecoms that offer bundling services usually have a higher ARPU.

Churn, often reported quarterly, measures the number of subscribers who leave the company. A low churn rate is desirable. Companies with a high churn rate face more pressure to generate revenue from other areas or gain new clients.

A telecom’s future growth also relies heavily on its ability to grow its customer base. Hence, subscriber growth is a critical metric. A solid subscriber growth rate reflects a competitive telecom that is keeping up with technology trends, keeping customers satisfied and attracting new ones.

In evaluating any stock, investors need to consider earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, free cash flow and debt-to-equity, according to Investopedia. Evaluating a stock also requires a specific understanding of the company’s sector and industry, in addition to knowledge about the forces affecting companies in the same category.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Analysis

Crypto Update: Chinese Crackdown Triggers Next Leg of Correction

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The cryptocurrency segment is crashing again, with double-digit losses across the board, and with several coins shedding around 30% in one day amid the widespread and heavy selling. The sell-off was triggered by reports on a new set of measures by the Chinese authorities limiting crypto trading, which added to the still looming South Korea related regulation worries. Bitcoin tested the mini-crash lows at $11,300 today in early trading, dipping slightly below that level before a strong bounce started.

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The most valuable coin is now between two crucial support/resistance lines, with the other ahead at $13,000, and as the downtrend is entering its more mature phase the $10,000 and $9,200 levels could come in play, with a possible dip to the support zone near $7,650.

BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

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Interestingly, the coin is still hovering within the daily range of the crash of December 22nd, and that points to a very active and volatile period ahead near the low at $11,300, as automatic orders will likely get triggered on both sides of the market.

The short-term setup is bearish, and although it’s possible that the primary support level will hold, odds still favor another leg lower, following the exponential run-up at the end of last year that pushed sentiment into bullish extremes.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Altcoins

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Analysis

Music: One Overlooked Use Case

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So far in this year, Ethereum has been the crypto star appreciating over 80% to a recent record of $1402. All this suggests that more and more applications are being created. We know this by the demand for Ether, the gas that drives the Ethereum network.

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The reason behind the explosion of Ether demand was confirmed by Ethereum co founder Steven Nerayoff in a CNBC interview where he claimed the number of Ethereum projects today is more than 10 times year ago levels.

One of those areas is the music business and there are several names appearing on the ICO list to add to your research agenda.

Why The Music Business Needs Help

Music may live forever but the business side has been in trouble for a long while. Over the last decade there have been only three years when the global value of music sales increased. The combination of digital music and outright pirating through peer-to-peer sharing has much to do with the long-term trend.

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Throughout the world there are 69 copyright and royalty societies given the responsibility of documenting, collecting and distributing music royalties. That means collecting a few pennies whenever a song is played on the radio, Internet or anywhere else. Four of the largest of these is in the US, followed by Japan, Germany and Britain. Their operations are truly byzantine.

Experts in the music-publishing field confirm the time between music usage and royalty payment can run close to 24 months. Even then not all royalties are distributed. According to my sources, there are often millions of dollars collected by royalty authorities everywhere that never make it to the entitled recipients. That sort of practice borders on criminal behavior but copyright and royalty societies operate in a sub-rosa manner making it difficult to understand their policies.

In the past just 4 major record labels controlled over 80% of the industry. These giants could afford a full time legal department to pursue royalty issues dominated the music industry. Today, however, independent labels represent almost one-third of the market. This means less democracy in the business with the young independent artist at a particular disadvantage.

Of course, musicians aren’t the only group of artists loosing out on their pay. There are writers, poets and painters that go largely unprotected.

The music business is just easier to track because it has more data. Yet in spite of all the information, the music industry is widely recognized for its lack of transparency. Blockchain technology has the ability to disrupt long-standing industry practices.

ICOs To The Rescue

The number of Ethereum based white knights is starting to appear on the horizon promising to rattle the industry and hopefully restore some democracy on behalf of the independent artist.

One simple business model comes from a startup SingularDTV who is attempting to build their ecosystem on top of Ethereum. Here is the basic value added proposal.

SingularDTV tokenizes the artist work. In doing so the artist is turning their music into a financial asset. Anyone who buys into an artist’s token owns a share of the creation and its income stream. The more people consume an artist creation, the higher goes the token price.

Only time will show if SingularDTV succeeds with this model. The consequence of this model is how it eliminates many of the middlemen and nefarious influences in the industry. Instead of singing on a street corner for bread, an artist could raise money upfront without relying on an advance from a record label.

According to SingularDTV, distributing content via blockchain would allow artists to skirt streaming platforms like Spotify to earn royalties on their own terms. Now that is true democracy.

SingularDTV may stand out a bit in the news due its recent ICO success in raising $8 million but they aren’t the only player in the music game. Names like Voise recently raised $1 million as well as Soundchain, Blokur and Opus to name a few.

I am no longer a registered investment advisor, which means I don’t go around making investment recommendations. So I will only suggest this group to put on your list of late night reading. Next time, I will take a closer look at more of these names.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Analysis

Technical Analysis: Cryptocurrencies Start Week on a Quiet Note as NEO Shines

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The broad Bitcoin-led correction continued to dominate trading in the crypto-segment throughout the weekend, as the most valuable coin drifted sideways above the key technical level at $13,000, with dwindling trading volumes.

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BTC remains in a declining short-term pattern, although the digital currency still holds well above the mini-crash lows from December, spending almost a month now in the daily range of the year-end plunge. We still expect the largest coin to complete the current cycle with a move below the crash lows and the $10,000 level after the stellar rally of the previous months. Key support is still found near $13,000, with further levels at $11,300, $10,000, $9000, and stronger levels at $8200 and $7700

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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Altcoins also settled down across the boards with only a few coins registering strong activity. Ethereum and NEO have been among the coins making headlines, as the second largest coin continued to grind, higher still trading near its recent all-time high today. The price of the ETH token is moving in a short-term uptrend, in the face of the stretched momentum indicators, but we expect a meaningful correction soon, and long-term investors should wait for a more favorable technical setup before entering new positions, with key support levels at $1000, $850, $740, $625, and near $575.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ripple remained under heavy selling pressure in the meanwhile, as the oversold bounce of the weekend faded away and the coin got close last week’s lows again. As the short-term downtrend is intact, traders should stay away from entering new positions, while investors should wait for short-term sell-offs towards the main support levels at $1.50, $1.25, and $0.85 to add to their holdings.

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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