Why Comcast Is the Winner in the DirecTV and AT&T Merger
With the rash of huge telecom and media deals, investors often wonder who the real winner is when everything is said and done. Is integration an issue? Are there proper synergies between the two companies? Is there an overlap of customers and product? The gigantic purchase and merger of DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a head-scratcher to many at first as it is, because of the seemingly cannibalizing of customers and huge cost. In a new report from UBS, not only is the deal scrutinized, but the case is made that the company that ends up the winner in this gigantic merger may very well be cable behemoth Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA).
Here are the five reason presented by the UBS team that the DirecTV and AT&T deal is a winner for Comcast.
1) The UBS analysts argue that approval of the DirecTV and AT&T deal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make the Comcast deal with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) that much easier. They also believe that AT&T’s commitment to the video business and rural broadband should demonstrate to regulators that a larger Comcast will be less dominant in both markets than expected previously.
2) The combined DirecTV and AT&T will actually mean less competition for the cable industry. The feeling is that AT&T will devote far less time to its U-verse division to focus on the implementation of the satellite delivery component. There is also a line of thought that DirecTV will be far less nimble in dealing with competition and the industry as a whole when wrapped up in a huge conglomerate like AT&T.
3) In an effort to gain approval, AT&T is offering to build out rural broadband to 15 million homes. UBS feels that while the FCC may like the idea, that wireless broadband is no competition for the speed and latency of cable broadband service, which reaches roughly 114 million homes, or 98% of U.S. occupied households.
4) As mentioned before, if AT&T slows down the focus of the U-verse division, there is a good chance that the AT&T fiber to the home efforts will slow dramatically. This was being stepped up in its effort to battle not only Comcast, but Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and its roll out of the incredibly fast Google Fiber. In fact, the UBS team thinks that ultimately AT&T is planning to use satellite to battle the competition, which could drastically change the entire landscape for Comcast.
5) In what may be a huge surprise component of the deal, the UBS analysts feel that ultimately Comcast will enter the wireless business as a result of the DirecTV and AT&T deal. The ultimate wildcard presented in the report is that Comcast being drawn into the wireless world for a variety of reasons could lead to it ultimately making a bid for T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS). This could change everything in the battle for the bundled customer, and ultimately give Comcast the upper hand. The UBS team acknowledges that the concept may be far-fetched, but the cable industry has been very aggressive in evaluating an entry into the wireless market, and T-Mobile may be the perfect addition.
Needless to say, only time will tell what the final outcome and landscape looks like after such an industry-moving deal like DirecTV and AT&T tie up. One thing is for sure, the competition for the voice, data and entertainment needs of the consumer is only get to get ramped up, and ultimately could drive costs down. With two huge deals on their plate, the FCC staff could have some late nights ahead of them.