Telecom & Wireless

Why Credit Suisse Prefers T-Mobile and AT&T

Cell Tower detail
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Credit Suisse hosted its second annual 1-1 Telecom Services Conference with the chief financial officers of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS). At the conference, the carriers seemed very comfortable with the current state of the wireless industry. The brokerage firm continues to believe AT&T has catalysts that could drive appreciation in 2015, and the firm also expects strong momentum to continue at T-Mobile.

Separately, Credit Suisse believes that Verizon continues to downplay its interest in Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) and is firm in its belief that densification is more prudent than some recent spectrum auction prices.

The catalysts at AT&T involve its transaction with DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) and increased guidance for synergies. In addition to this, the future for Mexico looks bright but may take some time to ramp up. AT&T was rated Outperform with a price target of $38.

The brokerage firm explained AT&T’s position in its report:

We now see this (DIRECTV) as a mild catalyst for the stock given the increase in concern. Additionally, we believe there could be further upside to the recently raised synergy guidance of $2.5 billion. While the current estimate does not include revenue synergies, we also see the potential for upside from quicker attrition from U-verse to DirecTV, which will have lower content costs until current contracts expire. We remain comfortable the dividend payout ratio will return to normal levels. Recall, CapEx should decline $3 billion in 2015 compared to 2014. Additionally, this should drive trailing operating expense savings, likely in the 20-30% range, in our opinion.

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As for T-Mobile, its momentum is stemming from comfortable industry trends in the first half of 2015. Credit Suisse believes that it remains an attractive stand-alone company and sees numerous benefits from potential merger scenarios.

There could be numerous benefits from a combination with Dish. But in the longer term, Credit Suisse believes that T-Mobile still has its sights on a combination with Sprint. It seems clear that this transaction cannot happen under the current administration, but the chances could increase following the 2016 elections.

T-Mobile was rated as Outperform with a price target of $39.

According to Credit Suisse, Verizon also seemed to be comfortable with current wireless industry trends. Its management reiterated that it has little interest in Dish and that the company firmly believes that it has a long runway to add capacity through densification, at a lower cost than prices paid at the AWS-3 auction.

Credit Suisse described Verizon’s comfortable position:

  • The company continued to indicate that it does not need Dish’s spectrum.
  • Management remains confident that it is better or more efficient to build capacity by adding cell sites than paying exorbitant prices for spectrum. Adding capacity through technology could be 25% cheaper than some of the prices paid in the AWS-3 auction.
  • The company could have a unique content offering, using non-traditional content that is appealing to millennials. Much of this content could come at no cost to the subscriber, potentially supported by an ad-based model.
  • The wireless competitive environment has seemed to settle down somewhat.
  • The use of unlicensed spectrum will help offload capacity demand. Early testing has had positive results.

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Shares of AT&T closed Thursday up 0.6% at $35.02, in a 52-week trading range of $32.07 to $37.48. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $34.57.

Shares of T-Mobile closed down 0.5% to $39.57, in a 52-week trading range of $24.26 to $40.77. The consensus price target is $39.48.

Verizon shares closed Thursday up 1% at $47.77. The consensus price target is $51.78, and the 52-week range is $45.09 to $53.66.

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