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About 8.9 million TV viewers watched the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the first day Democrats laid out their case against the president, marking a significant drop from the roughly 11 million viewers who watched on Tuesday, according to Nielsen ratings data. The audience includes viewership from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm EST on Walt Disney Co's ABC, AT&T Inc's CNN, ViacomCBS's CBS, Comcast Corp's NBC and MSNBC, and Fox Corp's Fox News. The third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history is unlikely to end with a vote that removes Trump from office, as Republicans who control the Senate have continually voiced support for the president.
Streaming is taking over the world of media slowly but surely, and Comcast is pivoting to a strategy that emphasizes "slowly but surely"
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Cord-cutting isn’t stopping. As it turns out, that’s not such bad news for cable giants like Comcast Corp. It is, however, for AT&T Inc. The streaming wars intensified in the fourth quarter amid Walt Disney Co.’s advertising blitz for its new Disney+ service that overtook billboards, shopping malls, public transit and Twitter feeds. At the same time, Apple Inc. began giving away Apple TV+ free to anyone buying a new iDevice of some sort. Comcast is the first of the traditional media giants to report results for this period, giving a glimpse on Thursday morning at how the pay-TV industry fared as consumers were given more reasons than ever before to ditch cable, skip the box office and start streaming from their couches.Comcast itself reported a generally strong quarter: It signed up 442,000 net new internet customers, one of its biggest boosts ever, while the NBCUniversal media networks took in higher ad revenue and guests also spent more money at its theme parks. Film was a weak spot, with adjusted Ebitda in that business dropping nearly 50%, as its musical “Cats” bombed in theaters. Even more telling, though, was that Comcast’s cable unit lost more video subscribers than expected — 149,000, mostly residential — a sour indicator for AT&T, which is scheduled to report its own results on Jan. 29. “We expect higher video subscriber losses this year,” Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said on Thursday’s earnings call. (Even Netflix Inc. is forecasting higher churn in the U.S., after subscriber gains slowed.)Although Comcast may be best known (or hated) by consumers for its cable-TV service, that’s actually its least relevant business. Internet users at Comcast have outnumbered video subscribers since at least 2015, and Comcast management has done a good job of shifting attention to the growth coming from broadband. In unveiling its Peacock app last week, Comcast also gave investors confidence that it’s taking a different tack in streaming than its rivals, choosing to go the free, ad-supported route, which will help Peacock garner eyeballs and not have to compete on price like the others are. AT&T is another story. The wireless carrier is carrying a boatload of debt from its 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, a deal that tied AT&T’s fortunes to the more volatile and uncertain future of pay TV. Its DirecTV/Entertainment Group — about 25% of total company revenue — has lost customers more rapidly than the rest of the industry on account of price hikes aimed at lifting profit and reducing debt. So if video customers were abandoning Comcast last quarter, they were most certainly dumping DirecTV, a technologically inferior product.Even AT&T TV Now, a virtual skinny-bundle service (formerly known as DirecTV Now), has been shrinking as customers look to cheaper options. AT&T’s WarnerMedia division will introduce HBO Max in May for a monthly subscription price of $15, the same rate as regular HBO but with the added bonus of a library of Warner Bros. films, content from its Turner networks, old episodes of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory” and a slate of original content. But HBO is still the main reason to get HBO Max, and so the question becomes, does everyone who wants HBO already have it? AT&T is investing $2 billion in the product this year, an expense that will ramp up to $4 billion by 2024. It’s not expected to start making money until the following year.Between the debt and streaming foray, the new AT&T still has a lot to prove — and a lot to spend. It won’t help matters if its media networks take a big hit from cord-cutting and if a chunk of those cord-cutters are fleeing DirecTV specifically.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
There was one value strategy that wasn’t a disaster in 2019, and it now likes commodity producers over techs.
About 11 million TV viewers watched the start of the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday when lawmakers sparred for hours over witnesses and records for the historic proceedings, according to Nielsen ratings data. The total fell short of the roughly 13.8 million viewers across 10 broadcast and cable television networks who tuned in last November for the first day of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into Trump. The audience figure on Tuesday covered the 4-1/2 hours of daytime coverage by six cable and broadcast networks that aired live telecasts on Tuesday.
AT&T (T) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
Deutsche Bank’s Bryan Kroft initiated coverage of AT&T with a Buy rating on Wednesday, citing an attractive outlook for its core wireless business.
Amazon.com, AT&T Inc., DHL Express USA Inc. and other select companies with major delivery fleets — and their accompanying heavy carbon footprints — are banding together for an electric-vehicle collaboration.
AT&T; outperformed the S&P; 500 in 2019 and offers a 5%+ dividend yield; shares of the company remain undervalued Continue reading...
(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. says it’s ready to take on the toughest year in its history in terms of new streaming competition. Investors have their doubts.Netflix delivered generally upbeat fourth-quarter results after Tuesday’s close, with overseas growth helping offset a slowdown at home, but it expects to add fewer subscribers in the current quarter than Wall Street projected.The shares tumbled as much as 3.7%, the most since November, in New York trading Wednesday morning, after trending mostly higher amid volatile trading since the postclose report.With technology and media giants such as Apple Inc., AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and Walt Disney Co. all bringing new video platforms online, Netflix is working to keep customers loyal with a flood of shows and movies. The company plans to boost its spending by 20% this year, bringing its programming budget to about $12 billion on a profit-and-loss basis.“We view our big long-term opportunity as big and unchanged,” Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said during a pretaped recap of its fourth-quarter earnings, released Tuesday.Despite the muted first-quarter subscriber forecast, Netflix said there’s “ample room for many services to grow.”Netflix investors have been grappling with whether the company’s days of reliable growth are over. The company added fewer customers in 2019 than it did in 2018, and its increase in the U.S. and Canada decelerated by more than 3 million. In posting the results Tuesday, Netflix said price hikes and a growing array of options have made it harder to attract customers.It’s only going to get tougher. Apple’s TV+ and the Disney+ platform both launched in the U.S. during November, enticing consumers with lower-cost services, while AT&T’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock are both coming online in the next few months.All those competitors are likely to slow customer additions and increase the number of existing customers who cancel Netflix.Against that backdrop, Netflix posted its weakest year of domestic subscriber growth since it first broke out its online service from the company’s traditional DVD-by-mail business in 2011. Netflix is projecting a gain of 7 million paid subscribers worldwide in the first quarter, short of the 7.82 million estimate.“We are working hard to improve our service to combat these factors,” it said in a letter to shareholders.Staying the CourseBut the Los Gatos, California-based company argues that its strategy is still sound, and competition shouldn’t cause it to change course. Losing popular shows such as “Friends” to its new rivals has had no impact on viewership so far. Netflix subscribers are just finding other shows to watch, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.For proof, Netflix can point to its global growth in the latest quarter. The company added 8.76 million customers in the period, compared with forecasts of 7.65 million. Hastings described them as “amazing numbers.”Netflix has pinned its future potential on growth outside the U.S., where it doesn’t yet face the same level of competition. Europe and Latin America have been the company’s engine in the past couple years, and continued to serve that role in the fourth quarter. Netflix added 4.4 million customers in Europe, bringing its overall total to almost 52 million, and another 2.04 million customers in Latin America.Non-English ShowsNetflix plans to release more than 100 seasons of local language programming next year. Though its biggest global hits are mostly English-language shows such as “Stranger Things” and “The Witcher,” its most popular programs in many territories are in other languages, like Spain’s “Casa de Papel.” The company is also experimenting with different pricing plans in Asia.Netflix has borrowed billions to fund all that programming, and its long-term debt stands at almost $15 billion. But the company said this past year will mark the high-water mark in terms of its cash burn. Earnings of $1.30 a share also handily beat analyst estimates of 30 cents, lifted by a tax benefit.Investors weren’t sure what to make of Netflix’s results at first. The shares had dropped as much as 3% to $327.97 in extended trading before rebounding, then drifted lower again Wednesday morning into the open. The company’s shares had climbed 4.5% so far this year before Tuesday’s close.“After several years of unchecked dominance in the U.S. streaming-video industry, Netflix faces high-profile new streaming rivals,” Geetha Ranganathan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said in a report. “Yet the breadth of its content and a compelling value proposition will make it hard for new entrants like Disney+ to unseat the company.”(An earlier version of the story corrected a quarterly financial comparison.)To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, John J. Edwards III, Cécile DauratFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc.’s obsession with paying down debt has led to some financial creativity.Right before the end of 2019, AT&T took a collection of cell-tower rent payments that it will receive in the future, rolled them into a subsidiary, then sold shares of the unit to investors for $6 billion.The new entity is called AT&T Investment & Tower Holdings LLC, and the preferred shares pay as much as 5% annually, according to a filing last month. The proceeds will go toward general purposes and paying down debt, AT&T said.The move is the largest in an ongoing effort by AT&T to turn assorted assets into cash that it can use to whittle away at its borrowings. AT&T has set a goal to lower its leverage ratio to between 2 and 2.25, a target it promised shareholders, including activist investor Elliott Management Corp.In this case, with the tower receivables, AT&T raised $6 billion up front, which requires an interest payment of 4.75% to 5%. While that’s a higher interest rate than nearly any loan AT&T could have received, the one significant advantage is that the $6 billion doesn’t add to its $165 billion debt pile.“This is a bit of a surprise for a high-grade-debt company like AT&T,” said Dave Novosel, an analyst with Gimme Credit.AT&T representatives declined to comment on the tower-receivables entity, citing a quiet period ahead of its earnings report later this month.$200 BillionAT&T’s mountain of debt reached $200 billion after its 2018 purchase of Time Warner. The deal was part of the phone company’s strategy to transform into a modern media colossus. In the past year, the Dallas-based company has sold at least $7 billion worth of assets. Some were easy castoffs, such as its stake in Hulu and its office space in New York’s Hudson Yards.It’s all part of the plan AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens pitched anew to investors earlier this month at a Citigroup conference in Las Vegas.“I’ve got to find some assets to monetize, whether it’s selling out Hudson Yards or selling Hulu or whether it’s finding these tower-company receivables,” Stephens said. AT&T has to “go out and figure out a way to monetize those things that people didn’t pay much attention to. That was a significant part of what we did in the fourth quarter.”The timing was ideal if AT&T wanted to stay below the radar, Novosel said.“December is a time when people are focused on other things,” he said. “It’s a good time to avoid attention.”\--With assistance from Miles Weiss.To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, John J. Edwards IIIFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Ben Reynolds chose AT&T; (T) as his Top Pick for conservative investors in 2019; the stock is up 37% over the past year. The editor of Sure Dividend again turns to the telecom firm as a favorite for 2020.
Animated versions of Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle will have supporting roles in a British royal family satire that will make its debut on AT&T Inc's HBO Max streaming video service, the company said on Tuesday. The show was inspired by Janetti's Instagram account with close to a million followers, and explores the life of British royalty through the eyes of six-year-old Prince George, the oldest child of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince George's parents also will be characters - with actors doing their voices of course.
AT&T stock topped the S&P 500 in 2019, but Tocqueville Asset Management sees even more upside, buying more than a quarter million more shares in aggregate in the fourth quarter. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon are “much less contrarian” now.
T-Mobile stock is consolidating as the proposed Sprint merger’s fate remains unclear. Here is what a fundamental and technical analysis says about buying stand-alone T-Mobile sans Sprint.
Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) has to prove that it can prosper in the expanding streaming war after Dow components The Walt Disney Company (DIS) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) fired up new services in the fourth quarter. Nervous Netflix shareholders hope that Tuesday's post-market earnings release takes a giant leap in that direction, with Wall Street analysts now expecting earnings per share (EPS) of $0.53 on fourth quarter revenues of $5.45 billion. There's little doubt that Netflix can find a comfortable niche within this growing competition, but its torrid growth rate may have topped out in 2019, and the stock can no longer sustain the still-lofty price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 109.