Telecom & Wireless

RBC Gets More Positive on Wireless Carriers

One area that is starting to garner some pretty serious attention recently is the wireless carriers. Needless to say, market anxiety and a rising VIX always will move investors there as they perceive it as somewhat defensive, but some very positive trends are starting to emerge and analysts are taking note.

In a new research note, RBC makes price changes across the board in the industry as the firm is perhaps starting to see what other analysts did last week when Merrill Lynch and UBS took a big step and upgraded AT&T from Neutral to Buy. Barclays also upped the stock to an Overweight Rating from Equal Weight.

While the RBC analyst keeps the firm’s rating on the stocks where they were, telecom and wireless carrier investors are no doubt happy to finally see some renewed interest in a segment that has a ubiquitous product and user base, but always seems to struggle with margins.

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) leads off the price increases at RBC. While the company lowers the postpaid adds for the second quarter, RBC like many across Wall Street are becoming increasingly bullish on the Mexico business and the completion of the DirecTV deal, both of which look to add solid future revenues. RBC keeps the stock at a Sector Perform rating but raises the price target from $33 to $37. The stock closed Tuesday at $35.52.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) also gets a boost in the price target at RBC. The analysts see the company actually adding to the net postpaid additions and they raise their estimates from 35,000 to 160,000. They also change the average revenue per user, or ARPU, estimates to better reflect ongoing strength in tablets and late-June migrations from Virgin/Boost to Sprint postpaid. The stock stays at a Sector Perform rating, but the price target goes from $5 to $6. Sprint shares ended Tuesday at $4.56.

T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) is a wireless carrier that the RBC team is very bullish on. The analysts cite stronger postpaid customer additions that were driven by positive momentum in phones and tablets and aided by relatively measured competition from peers. They also see the company continuing to gain market share and show improving margins. Plus, T-Mobile remains a very viable takeover candidate. The RBC rating for the stock is Outperform, and the price target goes from $39 to $41. The stock closed Tuesday at $38.77.

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While it always seems on the surface that something has to give in the wireless arena, the same players are always standing, and the price wars and attrition/churn seem to stay in place. It would not be a surprise to finally see some sector consolidation in the next year.

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