Virgin Media Q1 2010 results: volume growth strengthening; still potential for improvement

VMed’s Q1 results were again strong, with price increases and opex reduction continuing as the main drivers, underpinned by strengthening volume growth

The company’s recently completed debt refinancing gives management much greater flexibility in deciding how much to reinvest in growing the business

The outlook continues to look very encouraging, with the April price increases, further cost reduction, modest turnarounds at Mobile and Business and improved wholesale terms for Sky content still to come

Sky and the Competition Appeal Tribunal order on interim relief

Implementation of Ofcom’s wholesale must-offer (WMO) remedy for Sky Sports 1 and 2 is to proceed while the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hears Sky’s appeal, but subject to conditions which include restricting it to three parties: Virgin Media, BT and Top-Up TV

The settlement marks an important concession by Sky on the principle of enforced wholesale, and seems implicitly to reduce the WMO issue to one of price

France Télécom in a Red Queen race

FT’s domestic fixed line revenue decline accelerated in Q1 2010 as Orange’s broadband subscriber growth continued to disappoint, despite price cuts

FT’s higher service level has sustained premium pricing to date, but competitor altnets are also improving service – FT must run to stay still in a fast moving competitive marketplace

New promotions and/or price cuts for the triple play are required to stabilise Orange’s broadband market share, at the cost of further fixed line revenue decrease

 

Facebook: how to win friends and influence publishers and developers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has set out a vision of the social network as the hub of a personalised internet based on real identities and connections – the so called ‘Social Graph’, with Facebook providing the infrastructure

Simplified tools for apps and new social plug-ins for third party sites will increase Facebook’s influence both on and off the core platform, but raise some privacy concerns

BT 2009/10 Q4 results: strong cost control and better visibility, but a tough year ahead

BT met its guidance for the year to March 2010, although the improvement this quarter was more modest and concentrated at Global Services

New guidance gives an exceptional level of visibility over the next three years which, although welcome, reflects the challenges which lie ahead

BT has stepped smartly back from the brink but, as management concedes, there is much left to do, particularly at Global Services, which continues to burn cash

 

Vodafone 2009/10 FY results: economic recovery benefits revenue, costs not-so-much

Vodafone Europe’s organic revenue growth improved again, from -3.2% to -2.4%, with it enjoying a fair share of the improvement in mobile market growth driven by improving economies across Europe

EBITDA margin fell, partly as a result of weak cost control but mainly because SAC/SRCs rose as Vodafone subsidised consumers getting more expensive handsets, which involves a short term (but not long term) profitability hit

Yell signals strategic shift

On 18 May Yell published a roughly as expected revenue decline for the year of 13.8%, and announced the departure of both its CEO and Finance Director, just six months after its mammoth refinancing was secured

The City responded swiftly and brutally, wiping 23% off the share price on further evidence of structural decline for the legacy print business, as well as instability at a critical time for Yell

Apple and Google: Apps, iAd and War

In June, Apple’s new ‘iAd’ unit will begin serving ads within iPhone apps. iAd will compete with Google’s AdMob, paralleling Google Android’s competition with the iPhone, as the two companies contend to shape how people will use the mobile internet

The iPhone’s success is underpinned by apps, which draw in both consumers and publishers in a virtuous circle, but undercut Google’s search model. With iAd, Apple seeks to make sure iPhone apps remain the most profitable place for publishers

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