Recent news about the merger between Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) reminded me why I don’t like gambling on such events. As you know, the S stock price received a massive boost in the middle of the spring season. That was when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his support for the merger.
Moreover, the proposed union between the third and fourth largest U.S. telecoms cleared additional hurdles. Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice declared that the two companies can move ahead with their merger. Combined with Pai’s show of support, Sprint stock skyrocketed upon the positive news.
However, it wasn’t a complete loss for opponents of the move, who claimed that it would impede competitiveness. This criticism was especially relevant for rural customers, who may be vulnerable to onerous price increases. To address this issue, the DOJ required the merged company to spin off various assets to create a Sprint replacement.
Furthermore, Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) will buyout these assets, including Sprint’s prepaid wireless business. The satellite-TV provider will also acquire several of Sprint’s wireless airwaves. Theoretically, this should help deliver mobile-internet access to rural residents. But despite this concession, many Democrats are not satisfied with the terms. Several of the left’s presidential hopefuls requested that the FCC attain a public response to the merger before approving it. Citing the familiar argument about antitrust concerns, Democrats worried about negative consumer impact. Naturally, this is a distraction for S stock.
But in this particular case, I believe the geopolitical implications overwhelmingly favor the merger. Thus, I wouldn’t have too much anxiety about Sprint stock.
S Stock Is One of the Trade War’s Few Beneficiaries
In normal circumstances, I believe the Democrats’ concerns would carry much more weight. They might even be enough to disrupt the bullish trajectory of the S stock price. And when it comes to the telecom industry, greater concerns exist. Right now, we have four major telecom companies. With the merger, we’d have three, making for a sizable 25% loss.
Put another way, post-merger, we’d be one company short of a duopolistic industry. At that point, consumers will have very little choice, thus bolstering the Democrats’ argument.
However, the narrative behind Sprint stock doesn’t just involve competitive concerns. Rather, we have geopolitical ones as well. As I’ve argued a countless number of times, we’re in the middle of a tech cold war. While China is technically an economic partner, they’ve made no bones about our underlying adversarial relationship.
Let’s remind ourselves that the biggest reason we’re locked in a trade war is China’s campaign of intellectual property theft. They want to catch up and later exceed our technological prowess. Obviously, the U.S. federal government will do everything to subvert China’s plans.
And that benefits S stock because part of winning in tech is winning in crucial sub-segments like 5G. With a successful rollout, 5G facilitates other innovations, such as artificial intelligence and automated transportation networks. Furthermore, in order to achieve this rollout, you must have strong telecom firms with appropriate know-how and capacity. Sprint has never really lacked in the former attribute. However, it’s the latter that has inspired in part the merger proposition.
Thus, here’s the reality for Sprint stock. The U.S. can either have two relevant telecom names, and two hobbled ones. Or, all three can be vigorous rivals, competing not only for American customers but also American interests.
The Sign of the Times
As I mentioned back in June, Pai mentioned President Donald Trump when voicing his support of the merger. Specifically, Pai stated that 5G is a top priority for the White House. Back then, I said it was one of the smartest things Trump has ever uttered. I stand by that comment even more so today. That’s because the Trump administration badly needs America’s technological base to run in tip-top shape.
According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, Trump is losing the trade war. As evidence, the president has increasingly ratcheted up the pressure on China, but without yielding substantive concessions. But because of the pressure, the domestic economy is showing fissures.
With geopolitical events not working in the White House’s favor, Trump must secure what he can. Plus, you have the combination of the FCC and the DOJ already greenlighting the merger. Therefore, the Democrats’ opposition is nothing but noise for Sprint stock.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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