After a weak 2014, the “Big Four” telecom companies are looking to have a bounce-back year in 2015. A recent report by Morgan Stanley analysts indicates that shareholders of Sprint Corp S 1.18%, and AT&T Inc T 0.21% should keep expectations low for the upcoming year.
According to analysts, there are five key sources of growth pressure on the wireless side:
- Aggressive competition among the “Big Four”
- Total market saturation
- Smartphone saturation reaching 70 percent
- A shift toward installment plans
- Price wars
Saturation means that any growth by these telecom companies will need to come at the expense of the others. Aggressive pricing strategies aimed at luring customers, such as Sprint’s recent campaign targeted at Verizon and AT&T customers, will continue to be a factor in the future.
Lack Of Value Support
Analysts believe that the telecom stocks are appropriately valued at current levels.
With the rising interest rates likely coming soon, analysts believe the appeal of owning telecom stocks for their dividends and share buyback plans will start to fade.
Morgan Stanley analyst Simon Flannery explains that Verizon is the top pick among the big four because of its valuation and dividend, and says Sprint is the weakest of the four because of its weak positioning and high churn rate.
“We generally prefer the towers (Crown Castle, SBA Communications) and Canadian carriers (Rogers, BCE) given their more attractive industry structure and fundamentals.”
Morgan Stanley has Overweight ratings on…
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