|Bid||59.58 x 1100|
|Ask||59.59 x 1000|
|Day's Range||59.38 - 59.86|
|52 Week Range||52.28 - 61.58|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.47|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||15.54|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||2.46 (4.13%)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T (T) states that investors should expect share buybacks to be added to the mix of the company's capital allocation approach.
Verizon Communications (VZ) closed the most recent trading day at $59.50, moving -0.77% from the previous trading session.
As the wireless industry rolls out the 5G technology, the latest network deployment is triggering demand for tower leasing which looks encouraging for the days ahead.
The media business has always been about frenemies and evolving alliances which makes for tricky navigation even in quiescent times.
While Qualcomm (QCOM) is planning to develop cheap 5G chipsets for the masses, CenturyLink (CTL) aims to strengthen its position in the content delivery network with the acquisition of Steamroot.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Europe is getting its own version of Softbank Group Corp. with the Amsterdam listing of tech investment firm Prosus NV. The move will likely help it avoid the fate of Yahoo Inc., the erstwhile Silicon Valley titan which has since fizzled away as a holding company.South African media and internet firm Naspers Ltd. has spun most of its technology investment out into Prosus. That new company, like its parent (which retains a stake of more than 73%), derives almost all of its 121 billion-euro ($133 billion) market capitalization from a 31% stake in Tencent Holdings Ltd., the Chinese internet behemoth behind WeChat. That’s much like Softbank, which trades at a discount to its investment in China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.Bob van Dijk, the chief executive of both Prosus and Naspers, intended the Amsterdam listing to reduce the discount to the $131 billion value of the Tencent investment.Naspers came to constitute about 20% of the Johannesburg stock exchange; that means index funds had to sell shares in order to meet limitations about concentrating too much ownership in one stock. The stock started to underperform Tencent shares the moment it exceeded a 10% weighting, as Bloomberg Intelligence analyst John Davies has pointed out.On that basis, the listing has so far been a success. When Naspers announced the spin-off in March, it was trading at a near 30% discount to its Tencent stake, taking into account its net cash position. Now Prosus is trading at a discount of just 3% to its Tencent shares, net of cash but not including other investments.Prosus is home to more than just the Tencent stake. It houses most of the technology investments made by Naspers, including stakes in Delivery Hero AG, Mail.Ru Group Ltd. and PayU. The value of the publicly-traded entities alone is 4.1 billion euros. Including these, Prosus still has a discount of perhaps 20% to its sum-of-the-parts valuation.The question for van Dijk and his team remains to what extent they can break the stock’s lockstep with the Tencent share price. If they can’t, then Prosus risks becoming little more than a proxy investment, and follow the fate of Yahoo.That American firm, after selling its eponymous internet assets to Verizon Communications Inc. in 2017, rebranded as Altaba Inc., and became a holding company for investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan Corp. Their combined value persistently exceeded Altaba’s valuation by some 25%. It is now dissolving those holdings and shutting up shop.Some sort of mark down is always likely to be the case, partially because Prosus shareholders, like those of Altaba, have no real say in the running of the firm’s biggest investment. Tencent management is after all not directly accountable to Prosus investors. And there continue to be overhanging concerns about governance, as I have written before.Given all that, the relatively slim Prosus discount – compared to Altaba, at least – suggests investors are in fact affording some value to its portfolio of investments besides Tencent. Does that mean they would rather van Dijk reduce the Tencent stake (he says he has no plans to do so) and reinvest the proceeds elsewhere? Probably not.There are reasons why Prosus might continue to close the valuation gap. Inclusion on Amsterdam’s Euronext indices over the next few months ought to attract index funds, for instance. And some more lucrative exits such as the the 1.6-billion-euro profit Naspers made on India’s Flipkart would reassure shareholders that van Dijk is making the right investment calls.Van Dijk has taken a healthy step to bring the company more in line with the value of its holdings. But now he can’t as readily point towards technicalities as a reason for the discount, he needs to prove his ability to deliver the investment returns that justify spending shareholders’ money.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
As part of Mcity's leadership circle, Verizon (VZ) is actively developing various 5G solutions designed to increase pedestrian safety and avoid car accidents.
Dividend paying stocks like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) tend to be popular with investors, and for good...
(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. took turns announcing new mobile processors at the IFA technology show in Berlin last week, and the big thing the new chips have in common is an integrated 5G modem.In a market dominated by U.S. rival Qualcomm Inc., the world’s two biggest smartphone manufacturers asserted a lead in delivering one of the keys to unlocking widespread availability of 5G devices. A system-on-chip that integrates the applications processor and a fifth-generation wireless modem significantly reduces the space and power requirements compared to existing solutions that use two separate chips.Qualcomm has such models on its 2020 road map, but this past week Samsung announced it’s planning mass production for its alternative at the end of 2019 and Huawei is moving even faster, promising to release its most advanced processor with the Mate 30 Pro smartphone on Sept. 19.The Kirin 990 5G from Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon is built at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and packs more than 10.3 billion transistors into a space the size of a fingernail. It includes a graphics processor, an octa-core CPU, and the all-important 5G modem, along with dedicated neural processing units for accelerating artificial intelligence tasks.At Huawei’s Berlin launch event, consumer group Chief Executive Officer Richard Yu showed the high-end 990 5G achieving real-world download speeds on China Mobile’s network in excess of 1.7Gbps. That’s fast enough to download high-definition movies and demanding 3-D games in a matter of seconds.Samsung’s approach with its Exynos 980 is to target the mid-range. Along with 5G capabilities, this new chip integrates 802.11ax fast Wi-Fi along with Samsung’s own NPU. It won’t run apps and games quite as quickly as flagship chips, but should help the South Korean company garner a slice of the more mainstream market before Qualcomm brings out an armada of new 5G-capable chips next year.Samsung’s emphasis on this part of the mobile market was also signaled by its launch of the Galaxy A90 this month, one of the earliest examples of a mid-range device with 5G.Huawei’s Next Flagship Phone Set to Sink Without Google Apps (1)For its part, Qualcomm is promising to cover the entire range of price points and mobile device types with its 5G portfolio in 2020, however the world’s premier mobile chip designer is finding itself behind its faster-moving rivals.While Huawei is “pushing to show tech leadership,” the company has “made sacrifices in order to make an integrated SOC,” said Anshel Sag, mobile industry analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. He cited the chip’s lack of support for mmWave -- the high-frequency 5G favored by U.S. carriers AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. plus some European ones -- as an example. The Kirin 990 5G is fast by today’s standards and a great upgrade for Huawei’s upcoming devices in China, but Sag said it’ll find itself outpaced by rivals in 2020.The silver lining to the trade war for Qualcomm, however, is that Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro will struggle to sell in Europe so long as the Trump administration prevents it from offering Google services on new phones. Irrespective of how fast and advanced its Kirin 990 5G may be, the trade war will prevent Huawei from fully capitalizing on its capabilities and may, in fact, push the company to license the chip out to other smartphone vendors, such as Lenovo Group, which is not subject to the same sanctions.If the U.S. keeps Huawei on its blacklist, preventing it from buying American technology, the company faces further chip challenges. To develop successors to the Kirin 990, it needs to license the latest designs from SoftBank Group’s ARM, but that company discontinued work with Huawei because of the U.S. ban.(Updates with analyst comment in the third from last paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Nate Lanxon, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc.’s sweeping transformation from Ma Bell to a multimedia titan has gone both too far and not far enough for Elliott Management Corp.Billionaire Paul Singer’s New York hedge fund disclosed a new $3.2 billion position in AT&T, taking on one of the nation’s biggest and most widely held companies with a plan to boost its share price by more than 50% through asset sales and cost cutting.Investors applauded the development, briefly sending AT&T shares on their biggest intraday rally in more than a decade.For Singer, the move represents one of the biggest bets in the four decades since the hard-driving activist investor founded his firm. And it strikes at the core of the way AT&T has built its bigger-is-better empire: a costly M&A binge that has turned the carrier into one of the most indebted companies on Earth.“There will be a fight,” said Chetan Sharma, a wireless-industry analyst.Elliott outlined a four-part plan for the company in a letter to its board Monday. The proposal calls for the company to explore divesting assets, including satellite-TV provider DirecTV, the Mexican wireless operations, pieces of the landline business, and others.It urges AT&T, led by Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, to exit businesses that don’t fit its strategy, run a more efficient operation and stop making major acquisitions. Elliott said it would also recommend candidates to add to AT&T’s board.In response, AT&T said it would review Elliott’s recommendations and said many of them are “ones we are already executing today.”The telecom giant said its strategy is “driven by the unique portfolio of valuable businesses we’ve assembled across communications networks and media and entertainment, and as Elliott points out, is the foundation for significant value creation.”The carrier said it believes that “growing and investing in these businesses is the best path forward for our company and our shareholders.”Still, investors seem to think Elliott’s plan could wring more value from AT&T. The shares surged as much as 5.2% to $38.14 in New York trading Monday. That was the biggest intraday jump since March 2009 and put them at their highest level since February of last year. They later settled down to a 2.7% gain amid a broader pullback in the market.Elliott said the investment -- among its largest to date -- was made because the company is deeply undervalued after a period of “prolonged and substantial underperformance.” It argued this has been marked by its shares lagging the broader S&P 500 over the past decade.It pointed to a series of strategic setbacks, including $200 billion in acquisitions, the “most damaging” of which was its $39 billion attempted purchase of T-Mobile US Inc. That deal resulted in the largest breakup fee of all time when the government blocked it in 2011 -- about $6 billion in cash and assets.“In addition to the internal and external distractions it caused itself, AT&T’s failed takeover capitalized a viable competitor for years to come,” Elliott said.The hedge fund also slammed the subsequent acquisitions of DirecTV and media giant Time Warner Inc. That puts particular pressure on Stephenson, 59, who oversaw the deals Elliott criticized in the letter.But, while the position in AT&T is large, Elliott may have a difficult time pushing for change unless it gets other investors to back its stance. Its newly disclosed stake in AT&T represents just about 1.2% of the company’s total market value.Elliott’s plan also calls for aggressive cost-cutting measures that aim to improve AT&T’s margins by 3 percentage points by 2022. Those margins have come under pressure amid cord cutting in video and widespread discounting in wireless, and Elliott said competitors like Verizon Communications Inc. have done a better job addressing those headwinds.Elliott said in the letter it has identified opportunities for savings in excess of $10 billion, but the plan would only require cost cuts of $5 billion.Elliott is also calling for a series of governance changes, including separating the roles of CEO and chairman -- currently held by Stephenson -- and the formation of a strategic review committee to identify the opportunities at hand.Transformative DealsWith a series of deals over the past several years, AT&T has transformed itself from a traditional telecom company into a multimedia behemoth. The company bought satellite-TV provider DirecTV for $67 billion in 2015, leaping into first place among U.S. pay-TV companies. Elliott criticized that deal in its letter as having come “at the absolute peak of the linear TV market.”AT&T then moved firmly into entertainment and media with the $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. That deal brought marquee assets such as HBO, CNN and Warner Bros.“Despite nearly 600 days passing between signing and closing (and more than a year passing since), AT&T has yet to articulate a clear strategic rationale for why AT&T needs to own Time Warner,” Jesse Cohn, a partner at Elliott, and Marc Steinberg, an associate portfolio manager, said in the letter. “While it is too soon to tell whether AT&T can create value with Time Warner, we remain cautious on the benefits of this combination.”High-Profile FightsElliott has a history of tackling some of the biggest and most high-profile companies around the globe, including EBay Inc., Pernod Ricard SA, and Bayer AG in the past year alone. The AT&T investment marks Elliott’s single largest equity investment with an activist slant.It’s not the first time Elliott has taken on a major telecommunications company, either. The hedge fund battled Vivendi SA for control of the board of Telecom Italia SpA, eventually winning control in 2018 in a fight that dragged on into this year.Those battles don’t always end in success. In Elliott’s proxy fight at Hyundai Motor Group earlier this year, investors opted not to elect its slate of directors at two of the South Korean manufacturer’s subsidiaries. But even in some of its major losses, like at Samsung Electronics Co., the repercussion of its agitations can send ripples beyond the proxy clash.Samsung managed to keep Elliott at bay in 2015 but touched off a series of events that resulted in a brief jail term for the electronics giant’s billionaire heir apparent for influence peddling, protests by hundreds of thousands of people in Seoul, and the downfall and imprisonment of South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye.Heavy DebtAT&T is the most indebted company in the world -- not counting financial firms and government-backed entities -- with $194 billion in total debt as of June, a legacy of Stephenson’s steady clip of large acquisitions. The CEO used to keep a spreadsheet of a few dozen companies that he studies on his tablet to plan his next big deal, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in 2016.The stock is among the top 20 most widely held U.S.-traded companies among institutional investors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s partially because of its steady dividend, which totaled $2.04 a share last year, giving investors a reliable payout in good times and bad.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says“AT&T will likely be under greater pressure to streamline operations and wring better performance out of Time Warner following the involvement of activist investor Elliott Management, yet this probably won’t prompt a change in company strategy. ... Elliott’s recommendation to spin off the DirecTV satellite business isn’t practical, in our view, as AT&T likely needs its free cash to help fund its dividend.”\-- John Butler, senior telecom analyst, and Boyoung Kim, associate analystClick here to view the research.Phone companies have also traditionally been considered a safety net for investors in bad economic times because people still need to communicate, though AT&T’s exposure to the landline business has more recently been a drag on profits because more people are shutting off their home phones and going wireless-only.Elliott’s move also put AT&T back in the cross hairs of one of its biggest critics: Donald Trump.The president, whose Justice Department unsuccessfully opposed AT&T’s Time Warner acquisition and who has slammed CNN’s coverage of him, cheered on Elliott’s efforts.“Great news that an activist investor is now involved with AT&T,” he tweeted.\--With assistance from Olga Kharif.To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at email@example.com, Nick Turner, John J. Edwards IIIFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Activist hedge fund Elliott Management revealed on Monday that it had taken a massive position in AT&T, saying the telecom giant can see its stock double by 2021.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Please, AT&T, no more giant mergers and acquisitions. Wall Street is begging you.That was one of the main messages in a letter Monday morning to AT&T Inc.’s board from Jesse Cohn, the head of U.S. activist investing at Elliott Management Corp. who is pressuring the communications and media conglomerate to get its act together. AT&T’s share price and reputation have been dragged down by troubles stemming from its ill-advised takeover of DirecTV in 2015 and its subsequent megadeal last year for Time Warner, which has yet to bear fruit. AT&T’s core wireless business continues to perform well, but it’s being overshadowed by CEO Randall Stephenson’s perplexing decision to expand into areas beyond his and the company’s expertise. And it’s making this push at a time when others from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corp. to Verizon Communications Inc. are looking to exit media and pay-TV assets or otherwise streamline their businesses. Elliott disclosed that it owns $3.2 billion of AT&T stock and wants the company to consider a number of changes. They include ridding itself of distractions such as the DirecTV unit and wireless operations in Mexico; eliminating wasteful spending; empowering the board to hold Stephenson’s team more accountable; and avoiding any more big M&A. This way, AT&T can sharpen its focus on 5G, the next generation of wireless networks – in which it has a chance to outshine Verizon – and come up with a clearer strategy for streaming-TV products, where it faces fierce competition from Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and others. As of now, AT&T offers all of the following video services, and I wouldn’t be surprised if its own managers failed a pop quiz on which one does what:Cohn’s letter, co-signed by Marc Steinberg, an associate portfolio manager at Elliott, is a reiteration of the columns I’ve written during the past two years, so I agree with many of their points. Activist shareholders are often guilty of stating the obvious and making overly broad recommendations for things a company should already be doing anyway. But this is a case where AT&T has started to look unwieldy and is moving too slowly to address that. It’s time an investor spoke up.To Stephenson’s credit, he has been making headway in paying down debt this year, by raising prices for DirecTV’s satellite and streaming packages and selling off WarnerMedia’s (formerly Time Warner) Hudson Yards office space in New York and its stake in Hulu. Still, AT&T was saddled with $186 billion of debt, net of cash, as of June. That’s more than fellow media giants Disney and Comcast Corp. owe combined. After AT&T’s share price popped almost 5% on Monday morning, the company acknowledged the letter and said Stephenson and his team “look forward to engaging with Elliott.” It’s always my favorite choice of words by companies suddenly targeted by an activist investor, because you know the last thing they are thinking is that they’re looking forward to dealing with one. AT&T also said that it’s already taking many of the actions Elliott proposed. If that’s true AT&T sure hasn’t done a great job of articulating that. There are so many strategic decisions I could pick apart (and have), but I think this one is emblematic of the company’s situation: Last year, AT&T decided that driving away DirecTV and DirecTV Now (now called AT&T TV Now) customers by raising prices and cutting back on channels was the best path to improving profitability. When making a product less appealing to customers is the strategy, that’s a problem. It doesn’t serve consumers, employees or shareholders to operate that way, which is why I’ve written here and here that AT&T should sell off the DirecTV division – especially as AT&T’s own WarnerMedia group gears up to introduce HBO Max next year, an app that will compete with DirecTV services. AT&T is valued at nearly 8 times forward Ebitda, a 20% premium to its five-year historical average ratio, though it’s a wide discount to Disney and Comcast’s valuations. Cohn and Steinberg figure their suggestions could drive AT&T above $60 a share by the end of 2021, from about $38 currently. I don’t put much stock in such predictions, though it’s clearly caught shareholders’ attention. Whether AT&T gets to $60, or $50 or $70, is anyone’s guess. But Stephenson does need to rethink his approach – or the board may need to rethink his title. To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 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/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- What do you get if you combine $90 million of venture capital funding, 430 sports writers and more than just a splash of Silicon Valley bravura?The answer might just be a model for how to make money in digital news. Subscription-based sports website The Athletic has encountered plenty of skepticism since its foundation three years ago by two veterans of fitness app Strava. But it continues to grow readership apace and attract investment and writers alike.Wariness is understandable: the subscription-based sports news website is hiring hundreds of good journalists on generous salaries, sometimes more than $120,000, to write thoughtful stories. It extended coverage to England’s Premier League soccer last month, adding almost 60 journalists. Surely there’s a hitch?Reverse engineering the firm’s finances suggests that it’s not far off profitability, and has a path to a sustainable business. Indeed, it’s likely to be just about covering its current costs if The Athletic hits its target of one million subscribers by year end. That’s an ambitious goal, given that the New York Times still only has 3.8 million subscribers. But between July and August the Athletic sprinted toward the finish line, adding 100,000 subscribers. Three years since its founding, it has attracted a total of 600,000 paying readers.The website’s approach points at how, after two decades of turmoil, the news business is slowly inching towards business models that work by focusing on high quality, specialized content that readers are willing to pay for.In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last month, the company said subscribers paid fees averaging $64 a year. Yes, that’s more than the cost of a $60 one-off annual subscription, but that’s because some people are paying by the month, often at a much higher rate than if they signed up for a year. Based on that average revenue per user (ARPU), The Athletic has a sales run rate of about $38 million. If it reaches its full-year subscriber target and that ARPU isn’t too heavily diluted by introductory discounts, sales will hit $64 million.I estimate the website’s annual costs to be a little over $60 million. Right now, that suggests a deficit of at least $20 million. While my calculations might be slightly out, it’s still a decent yardstick to indicate that by year end, it’ll be close to profitability. And the company does have the buffer of $90 million of venture capital money, including cash from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Slowly, we seem to be reaching the consensus that the best way to make money from written journalism is simply to get readers to pay for it. The past 12 months have been a brutal one for publications funded by online advertising: the U.S. news business cut the most roles in the first five months of the year since the 2009 recession, with BuzzFeed, Vice Media and Verizon Communications Inc. all firing staff.Publications that specialize in a particular subject and charge a subscription fee are a bright spot. At one end are those providing professional information for a significant sum. An annual subscription to the Financial Times will set you back 207 pounds ($254). Tech business site The Information charges between $399 and $749. Ion Investment Group meanwhile agreed to pay 1.4 billion pounds this year for the group that owns Mergermarket and Debtwire – providers of financial news and data.At the other end are the likes of The Athletic, with a coverage area too broad to be quite considered a niche, but which can attract a large audience happy to pay a smaller fee. The pollster Gallup estimates that 59% of Americans are interested in sports. That equates to some 169 million U.S. adults. So far, The Athletic has signed up just 0.4% of them as subscribers.A word of caution to The Athletic and its co-founders: don’t be greedy. Chief Executive Officer Alex Mather generated warranted opprobrium when he told the New York Times in 2017 that the he would “wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed, until we are the last ones standing.” It’s the sort of line that resonates well when pitching prospective VC investors, but plays poorly elsewhere.The same goes for aligning the pace of growth with spending. Cautionary tales abound, and the losers are most likely to be the journalists ultimately deemed superfluous when money has been spent too quickly. At a certain point, the company will have to generate a profit. If it expands too quickly and hires too many, then has to shrink, the journalists will be the first to suffer by losing their jobs.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com - Zoom Video Communications shares fell Friday as its earnings beat in the second quarter and raised guidance did little to offset fears about the company’s lofty valuation.
(Bloomberg) -- Corporate America is lining up at the debt trough again.Companies are borrowing $74 billion in the U.S. investment-grade bond market this week, the most for any comparable period since records began in 1972. Since Tuesday, corporations including Coca-Cola Co., Walt Disney Co., and Apple Inc. have sold notes as yields have dropped.And the frenzy isn’t letting up. At least another $50 billion is projected for the rest of the month, and the activity is spilling over to junk bonds and leveraged loans as well. With more than $16 trillion of bonds in Europe and Asia paying negative yields, investors worldwide are snatching up debt that offers relatively higher returns, keeping demand strong in the U.S.“This is a great time for companies to refinance,” Christian Hoffmann, a portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management, said. “Financing costs are near all-time lows, so I would not be surprised to see better high-yield companies coming to market and treating debt capital markets like a cheap buffet.”For investment-grade companies, the average yield on bonds was 2.77% as of Wednesday, according to Bloomberg Barclays index data. In late November, that figure was above 4.3%. For a company selling $1 billion of debt, that amounts to $15.3 million of annual interest savings, before taxes. Junk-bond yields have dropped too, with notes rated in the BB tier, the uppermost high-yield levels, paying a near record-low 4.07%.It’s not clear how long that will last -- on Thursday, U.S. Treasury yields surged, with the 10-year note jumping as much as 0.12 percentage point to 1.59%. But for now the bond sales are intense enough to make up for a year that had previously been lackluster. Investment-grade issuance is now down just about 2% from the same point last year. In June, the gap was closer to 13%.Read more: Robots Invade Bond Land and China’s Private DefaultsThe recent spate of issuance is the latest surge in corporate debt sales, as companies have ramped up their borrowings to buy back shares and invest in new projects. Investment-grade debt outstanding totaled $5.8 trillion on Wednesday, more than double the level a decade ago.The prior record for investment-grade bond issuance was $66 billion in the week of Sept. 9, 2013 when Verizon Communications Inc. sold $49 billion of bonds in eight parts, the biggest company debt offering ever. Companies now are by and large refinancing maturing debt, instead of funding big new capital projects.The underwriting fees that the sales are generating are one of the few positives for bank profits that are expected to get hit by falling rates. The refinancing can also translate into greater trading revenues, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Arnold Kakuda.It’s a stunning turnaround from late last year, when Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners’ global chief investment officer, said a sell-off in General Electric Co. debt signaled that “the slide and collapse in investment grade credit has begun.” While the investment-grade market last year generated losses of 2.5%, this year it’s up 14.2% including both interest and price gains, making it one of the best-performing assets in fixed income.In the leveraged loan market, 17 deals totaling more than $16 billion have launched this week, making it the busiest week since October. Investment-grade and high-yield bankers are telling clients that the good times may not last.“If someone has near-term financing needs, they should be looking to take advantage of this window,” said Jenny Lee, co-head of leveraged loan and high-yield capital markets at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Things potentially could shut down or get more difficult as we head toward the back half of this year.”(Updates with total sales for week in second paragraph and prior record in eighth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Brian Smith and Michael Gambale.To contact the reporters on this story: Molly Smith in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Caleb Mutua in New York at email@example.com;Gowri Gurumurthy in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nikolaj Gammeltoft at email@example.com, Dan WilchinsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- T-Mobile US Inc. is trying to make the case that Sprint Corp. is on its deathbed, and that T-Mobile alone can save it. That’s rich coming from the company that happily helped put Sprint there. It’s also a misleading prognosis for Sprint. A Sprint pity party is one way T-Mobile is defending against a multi-state lawsuit that seeks to prevent the wireless carrier from taking over its weaker rival, and it used that reasoning in a court filing last week. Even though the deal already has the backing of the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, 17 state attorneys general – who represent more than half the U.S. population – are challenging the transaction because of concerns that it will lead to higher prices, discourage innovation and hurt workers. Illinois, Oregon and Texas were the latest to join the now-bipartisan suit, whose trial date is set for Dec. 9. State officials are right to be concerned. T-Mobile and Sprint are the third- and fourth-biggest carriers, respectively, in a mainly four-carrier market. Lower prices and new features from them in recent years did a lot of good for customers, forcing industry leaders Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. to offer more competitive data plans. But without Sprint, there isn’t as much incentive for T-Mobile to keep prices down. In fact, for T-Mobile to close its profit-margin gap with the larger carriers, it more likely would need to do just the opposite. The DOJ is looking to wireless market newbie Dish Network Corp. to help preserve some equilibrium, putting Dish on the receiving end of the concessions that T-Mobile and Sprint are required to make. However, Dish is still years and multiple billions of dollars away from becoming a formidable competitor to fill the hole Sprint will leave behind. As such, the DOJ and the FCC may not be fulfilling their duties to promote competition and ensure that corporate tie-ups serve the public interest. T-Mobile’s argument is that if its deal gets blocked, Sprint is going to go away anyway. That’s a half-truth. I’ve written time and again about Sprint’s financial troubles and strategic missteps, including this series of charts showing just how ugly Sprint looks as a stand-alone. The data are almost sympathetic to T-Mobile’s case. But a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint doesn’t save Sprint. It does rescue an investment turned sour for many shareholders, especially a billionaire named Masayoshi Son. He’s the leader of SoftBank Group Corp., Sprint’s Japanese controlling shareholder, and he wants to remove any trace of his misguided optimism about Sprint from SoftBank’s balance sheet, equity valuation and image. SoftBank is retaining a 27% economic interest in the new T-Mobile, a superior operator on healthier footing.T-Mobile is casting itself as Sprint's savior, but T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been dancing on Sprint’s grave for years. Legere, a shameless yet successful self-promoter, often crossed the line in these instances beyond healthy competition, tweeting mean-spirited jokes about his rival going out of business. There were times he called Sprint “a melting ice cube,” said the company may have to resort to raising money on Kickstarter, and asked for “any guesses on what Sprint will fruckup today” (a swipe at Sprint’s “framily plan” promotion for friends and family). He used the hashtag SprintLikeHell. I’m not pointing this out for the sake of it or to say Legere is a big ole meanie. It’s more about this: While Legere was dissing Sprint, he continued to boast to investors that T-Mobile was actually posing serious competition for Verizon and AT&T – something he promises a combined T-Mobile-Sprint will also do. Except the data paint a slightly different picture. For years, T-Mobile regularly disclosed so-called porting ratios, which tell how many customers T-Mobile lost to another carrier and vice versa. For example, starting in 2013, its porting ratio with Sprint mostly held above 2 and at times went above 4 and higher, meaning that for every subscriber T-Mobile lost to Sprint, it gained four Sprint customers. T-Mobile will say that the overwhelming majority of its “porting” has come from Verizon and AT&T, but that’s explained by the fact that those companies have larger subscriber bases than Sprint does. The reality is that T-Mobile inflicted far more damage on Sprint than to what it calls “the duopoly,” as this chart shows:To be fair, T-Mobile isn’t the predominant reason Sprint is in such a desperate state now. Its problems date back to Sprint’s ill-advised merger 14 years ago with Nextel, a network that became a money pit for the company. And Sprint was never able to dig its way out from a mountain of debt, largely deal-related. Meanwhile, in 2011, regulators stopped AT&T from buying T-Mobile, a move that set T-Mobile up for a turnaround and to become the fastest-growing member of the industry. Had that deal gone through, consumers’ bills may have looked very different in the subsequent years.Going forward, if Sprint were to get any cheaper, other deep-pocketed buyers outside of the industry would likely surface, such as Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and others. The idea of a cable giant owning Sprint might not seem like a better outcome, but it preserves a competitor in the wireless market and many more jobs. As the industry gears up for ultra-fast 5G wireless networks, there’s simply no way T-Mobile is the sole company interested in Sprint’s spectrum assets and subscriber base, even if its brand is beyond repair. So when T-Mobile tells a courtroom that Sprint needs it, you have to laugh.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 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/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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