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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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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Ethereum Tops $550 as Altcoins Hit New Rally Highs

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The major coins are having another bullish day after a consolidation period with all of the top 10 cryptocurrencies sporting meaningful gains. Altcoins are leading the charge higher, as the switch in relative strength that we pointed out several times seems to be a lasting phenomenon, with the ETH/BTC pair confirming a short-term uptrend.

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BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Bitcoin is also up today, but while the majority of altcoins are trading on new rally highs, BTC is stuck below the prior swing high at $8400, which is also a previously established resistance level. The dominant declining trendline is also in that area, and that strong zone could hold back the largest coin for a longer period. A breakout would confirm a new rising short-term trend, with the next major resistance zone ahead between $9000 and $9200.

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ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum is among the strongest coins short-term, and with smaller cap altcoins also joining the rally, the whole segment could be ready for a move higher. That said, the broader declining trend is still intact with the coin trading in a strong resistance zone between $555 and $575. A new short-term uptrend is now confirmed but with the declining trendline just ahead, the coin could be in for volatile swings in the coming days. The next target zone is at $625, while support is found at $500 and $450.

Broad Altcoin Rally Lifts All Ships

XRP/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ripple, which was among the weakest majors for a prolonged period is one of the leaders today, climbing above $0.75, and eyeing the next major level at $0.84, with tbe coin already being above the previously dominant declining trendline.

On a slightly negative note, correlations are still high between the majors, but there are standout performers despite the concerted rally. Among the long-term leaders, Litecoin is trading near $150, while Monero added to yesterday’s gains, and it’s testing the $240 resistance as we speak.

The early leaders of the rally are slightly lagging in the current short-term swing, but that is likely a sign of rotation, as the likes of EOS, NEO, and IOTA are also higher today, while holding up wrll above the correction lows.

With all of the majors on buy signals in our trend model, we expect the rally to continue even as strong resistance zones are ahead and the road will likely be bumpy after the steep and lengthy downswing.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The analyst owns cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but doesn’t engage in short-term or day-trading, nor does he hold short positions on any of the coins.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 224 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Analysis

Rally Fades in Stocks as Apple Weighs on Nasdaq

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We warned yesterday that stock markets got vulnerable as the major US indices reached short-term overbought readings, and after a choppy Wednesday session, equities turned lower today in early trading. Apple fell by more than 2% in early trading on a supplier report regarding declining orders from the smartphone giant, and the sliding stock dragged the tech segment lower.

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S&P 500 Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

While the short-term technical picture deteriorated, the losses are muted so far, and the rising short-term trendlines are holding up. Volatility ticked higher, with the VIX bouncing off its two-month lows, but the index is well below the levels seen in the beginning of the month, as Syria-related fears continued to ease and the Chinese-US trade spat also took the back seat in the mainstream media.

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DAX, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Stocks finished broadly lower in Europe, while Asian equities reversed their early gains, with trading volumes still being low across the board. The economic calendar was almost empty today, with only the much worse than expected British retail sales figure adding to the string of negative surprises coming out form the UK this week. In the US, the Philly Fed index came in higher than expected, while weekly jobless claims were in line with expectations.

Dollar Stable as Short Yields Hit New Highs

2-Year Treasury Yields, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Treasury yields resumed their rise in the quiet environment, and as the short end of the curve continues to outperform the flattening of the yield curve continues in earnest. While forex markets are still mostly flat, the Dollar is drifting higher against most of its peers in US trading.

AUD/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Commodity-related currencies are little changed, although both the Aussie and the Canadian Dollar are off their recent highs, and should they roll over, the bullish case would receive another hit.  Despite the weakening of the risk rally, crude oil continues to hit multi-year highs, with the WTI contract getting close to the $70 per dollar level today. Gold fell back below $1350, as the choppy consolidation pattern is still intact, and the slight risk-off shift wasn’t enough to trigger meaningful safe-haven flows.

Featured image from 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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4.5 stars on average, based on 224 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Analysis

More Chance to Go Up for Litecoin

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Litecoin short term outlook is quite positive, while in a longer term, it’s somewhat mixed. Shortly, the digital coin may face a very strong resistance at $141, being currently priced at $140. As Dmitriy Gurkovskiy, Chief Analyst at RoboForex, says, Litecoin already tried to test this level earlier this week, but did not succeed.

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In the mid-term Litecoin is trying to break out the current range, and in case it finally manages to break out $141 and stay above, it may go up to $168. Before reaching this target, however, another downtrend may be formed, with Litecoin plunging to the support at $114 again. If the bears succeed in breaking out this level, too, another sell-off target will be at $87.

Current outlook, however, is mostly positive, with the key support being at $114 and the key resistances at $141 and $168. The MACD on D1 is in its negatives, but is going up, issuing a buy signal, while the Stochastic is in the positive area and confirms its buy signal, already issued some time ago.

Fundamentally, Litecoin has got much support this week. The market started buying out the coin once the news on the token being listed at Korbit appeared. As the recent reports say, the crypto started being traded on Korbit yesterday, while withdrawal should be available starting today, Apr 19. This is important for Litecoin: first, Korbit is one of the oldest and most reliable exchanges in Korea; second, as we have already stated a few times, if the crypto becomes widespread across multiple exchanges, its liquidity gets boosted, while the accessibility simplifies the transaction processes.

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Korbit decided to hold a contest, with the top 6 LTC/KRW traders getting prizes in Litecoin (the winner gets LTC 50, the runner-up will walk away with LTC 25). Meanwhile, Litecoin being available on Korbit also helped the crypto to rise on Bitfinex.

Currently, Litecoin is one of the most volatile currencies, mostly because of it always being in the news, which does good to its promotion. As such, it was announced a few days ago that LTC would be used as a payment method, and TenX already started developing a prepaid card for that purpose.

By: Dmitriy Gurkovskiy, Chief Analyst at RoboForex

Disclaimer
Any predictions contained herein are based on the authors' particular opinion. This analysis shall not be treated as trading advice. RoboForex shall not be held liable for the results of the trades arising from relying upon trading recommendations and reviews contained herein.

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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I have two degrees in Social Psychology and Economy. After graduation I worked as the Head of the Laboratory of Technical and Fundamental Analysis of Financial Markets at The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. The experience and skills he gained helped me to realize my potential as an analyst-trader and a portfolio manager in an investment company. At the moment I'm a financial expert, writing for various financial media sources and a Chief Analyst at RoboMarkets.




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