Publications

Format: Oct 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Orange UK's New Tariff

On Wednesday Orange announced a simple new single tariff range for all its new contract users. Although there are some benefits to both consumers and Orange of tariff simplification, the main impact appears to be to increase the price of calls for off-peak users, which is a sensible strategy for Orange and consistent with other tariff increases we have seen recently. Orange may lose customers because of this, but it has helpfully given four weeks warning of the change to the other operators, who may react with changes of their own.

Weak economic growth is usually blamed, but we believe that other forms of communication are substituting for fixed voice calls. Substitution of fixed line calls by calls from mobile phones is increasingly less important. By contrast, our conclusion is that Internet-based communication (email and instant messaging) has recently become a far more important source of competition to fixed line voice calls.

  • Orange
Telecoms 15 September 2002
Korean Broadband, Wireless and TV

This report looks at whether the extraordinary investment in Korean digital infrastructure has changed consumer behaviour. A combination of the Korean government and the large conglomerates have provided almost universal broadband access, the world’s most advanced 2.5G networks and are just beginning the process of providing ubiquitous digital TV. Alongside the growth in infrastructure, a small number of businesses have begun to develop substantial revenue streams from content. Of particular interest is the growth of multiplayer online games, in which Korea has a world lead.

Music publishing revenues are composed of multiple streams arising from almost all uses of music – radio, TV, live performance, sale of physical formats, use in film/TV soundtracks, sale of printed music etc. Of these, only the publishing revenues derived from the sale of physical formats are in decline. Otherwise, the industry is buoyant as music becomes yet more ubiquitous in everyday life. The latest version of Grand Auto Theft has 80 music tracks on it from major stars, an example of the spread of music into every corner of life.

Media, Telecoms 14 September 2002
European Mobile Operators - Mobile Valuation

In this report, we look at the components of a theoretical DCF valuation of European mobile operators, focusing on Vodafone as the most salient example, and compare our views with those of the ‘analyst consensus’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we are more conservative on revenue and margin forecasts than most forecasters, but an area in which we are uncharacteristically optimistic is cost of capital; the one benefit of the mobile industry’s transformation to low but stable growth is that WACCs should fall through both reduced betas and the ability to take on more debt. Our resulting value per share for Vodafone is lower than the analyst consensus forecasts would give, but is still a healthy 115p. We should stress that this is not a price target or a recommendation, as many other factors affect stock prices apart from theoretical projections. The Vodafone share price is currently trading below the valuation implicit in our low growth assumptions, perhaps because of cynicism about the company's excessive past promises, the possibility of further expensive acquisitions or many other potential concerns.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 13 September 2002
Consolidation in Media Buying

The last three years have seen huge concentration in the marketing services industry. One source suggests that 56% of the world’s advertising billings now pass through just seven buying groups, up from 32% in 1999. Though the advertising recession in major economies shows little sign of abating, the major groups continue to grow by acquisition, often financed by debt. At the same time, media planning and media buying have moved to the centre of these groups after a century of being little more than a clerical activity at the periphery of their business.

Media 9 September 2002
Wi-Fi: Wireless Data in Public 'Hotspots'

The last few weeks have seen several enthusiastic announcements from telecom operators eager to start public Wi-Fi services. In this note we look at the prospects for public Wi-Fi. Our analysis suggests that Wi-Fi is likely to suffer from three major problems

Our central projection – that about 50% of households will have access to multi-channel TV in 2006 – is far lower than other forecasters. Indeed, if we are wrong, it will probably be because we are too pessimistic. However, more sanguine observers should note that Zenith, probably the most quoted industry analyst, has quietly reduced its digital TV penetration forecasts by 5 million homes (over 20% of UK households) in the past year.

Telecoms 29 August 2002
Camera Phones

Camera phones represent the best hope of the mobile operators. Proven demand in Japan gives European operators reason for optimism that cameras will increase ARPU. Handset manufacturers believe it will ignite replacement demand.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 11 August 2002
Where Did the Music Go?

This report provides our analysis of the main factors in the evolution of the global music market in the period 2002-2006.

Media 5 August 2002
UK Broadband/Internet Trends H1 2002

This report provides an insight into the effect on consumers of the significant changes in retail pricing and promotion of broadband, as well as an update on the size and dynamics of the UK Internet population. The main points:

Media, Telecoms 29 July 2002
European Mobile Operators - Capital Expenditure Trends

Analysts are predicting substantial declines in mobile industry capital expenditure when expressed as a percentage of turnover. These improvements are supposed to be driven by (a) declining growth in call minutes; (b) decreasing prices of capital equipment; and (c) better 'capital efficiency' in the 3G era.

The continuing success of the industry has derived partly from its position at the meeting point of several important social trends – the decline in the reading of books, the gradual fall in the total circulation of newspapers, increased attention paid to celebrities and fashion and, most important, the increasing amount of disposable income available to the people under 35. Improvements in printing costs and distribution have allowed publishers to make money, even though the average sales per magazine have fallen substantially.

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 17 July 2002
European Online Advertising

This report addresses four principal questions:

Media 17 July 2002
The High Cost of Going Digital - The experience of BSkyB

In The Digital Bomb II (2002-21), we asserted that the worldwide switch to digital TV would take place more slowly than most commentators expect. We base this view on our assessment that there is no financial incentive for the operator to make the switch from analogue to digital TV.

1. The evidence of a rapid slowing of the growth in multichannel homes is increasingly clear. We predict that Sky will miss its target of 7 million subscribers by the end of 2003 by 300,000 homes, if current trends continue.

2. TV viewing levels appear to have returned to 2001 levels, after a fall in the first months of this year. The evidence for a secular decline in overall viewing is weak. But ITV1 continues to plummet.

Media, Telecoms 27 June 2002
The Digital Terrestrial Licence Applications

Digital terrestrial television in the UK and elsewhere faces three enormous problems: (1) the paucity of attractive programming available for free distribution; (2) the uncertainty of the coverage and picture quality; and (3) the low channel capacity compared to satellite and cable. The four bids for the UK DTT licences try to address these problems, but with limited success. In the next two weeks the Independent Television Commission will try to choose the least worst proposal.

The rationale behind the deal appears to be that management needed to demonstrate their continued commitment to building a successful US business, an ambition that all EMI managers have had for the last twenty years. Robbie Williams has never sold well in the US, and we regard EMI’s public commitment to make him in a star in America as an extremely testing challenge. Robbie’s brand of cheery mainstream pop is not as attractive to US record buyers as, say, Radiohead’s gloomy rock. And the market for European music in the US has rarely been weaker.

Media 11 June 2002
Resellers of Calls

Are resellers with ‘stretchy brands’ going to succeed where others have failed in dislodging BT from a dominant position in the fixed residential market for calls? Stretchy brands are widely touted as the next challengers because they have large and easily marketed customer bases, and their brand can be used to wean the fearful telecoms customer from BT.

Telecoms 11 June 2002
Mobile Termination Charges

This note looks at the likely extent of regulatory pressures on reducing termination charges for off-net calls to the 2G networks of mobile network operators (MNOs) in the UK, Italy and Germany. These charges are well above cost – mainly because each MNO acts as a monopolist for termination of calls on its network - and are therefore important contributors to revenues as well as profits of MNOs. In the UK, off-net interconnection charges contribute one-quarter of revenues of the four MNOs.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 10 June 2002
Handset Sales and the Replacement Cycle

In developed markets, the crucial determinant of the level of mobile handset sales is the speed of replacement, not the volume of new subscribers. But data on when customers expect to replace their existing phone, and what will prompt them to make the change, is extremely hard to find. In order to rectify this deficiency, we commissioned a telephone survey of customers in the UK.

Wanadoo also looks set to achieve its target of 2 million new subscribers in 2002 once the acquisition of the Spanish ISP eresMas is finalised in October. Organic growth of the Internet subscriber base has been poor in France and at a virtual standstill at Freeserve in the UK in the context of slow-growing Internet markets.

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 5 June 2002
UK TV Viewing Trends - Issue 2

Despite the bad press it is receiving, the BARB TV viewing panel appears to us to be settling down and providing robust results. In this note, Toby Syfret shows that UK viewing trends now appear to be clear-cut and not artefacts of BARB panel design.

Media 5 June 2002
Wanadoo Q1 2002 Results

This note contains our latest update on Wanadoo, France's leading ISP and broadband service provider, following on from the report we issued in April. Wanadoo's Q1 2002 results are on target with the company's objectives for the year, despite sharp declines in portal and e-commerce revenues. The reason is Freeserve: a better deal from its network provider has raised ARPU to €5.7/month from €3.7/month in Q4 2001, and its PAYG customer base has expanded under continued marketing efforts.

  • France Telecom
Media 16 May 2002
European Mobile Operators - Revenue Growth

In this note we look at the recent revenue growth performance of European mobile operators. We show that the current pessimism about future performance looks broadly justified. We comment on the increasing evidence, at least in the UK, that mobile penetration has stalled and that minutes of use are growing only slowly. We admit that our previous view that mobile usage would drift upwards even with stable call charges looks difficult to justify at the moment. Instead, many marginal users, such as older age groups and the less well-off, appear to be reducing their usage of mobile phones, possibly in reaction to perceived high prices.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 15 May 2002
UK Regional Newspapers

This is the third in our series of notes on UK newspapers and concerns regional newspapers. Unlike other media sectors, 2002 has got off to a positive start (as we predicted) due to resilience in newspaper advertising, particularly recruitment. This can deliver 25% plus of revenues. We expect recruitment to remain resilient, primarily due to continued government recruitment. As a result, we forecast 2-3% growth in advertising to this media sector in 2002.

But the overall conclusion of this report is that installing the infrastructure has, so far, changed very little. Old patterns of consumer behaviour largely remain. Three key points emerge. First, Internet behaviour is actually still very similar to Europe. Second, though wireless data use is rising, it is still a small fraction of voice usage. Popular data applications remain almost exclusively heavily focused on teenage ephemera, including ring tones, graphic messages and SMS/email. Third, the massive investment in digital TV capability, through satellite, terrestrial, cable and DSL is not being driven by consumer demand for High Definition TV. If South Korea is a good predictor of what is likely to happen in the rest of the world, the development of new content industries will continue to be slow and painful.

Media 13 May 2002
Hutchison 3G - The Last of the White Elephants?

This note discusses the likely obstacles to a successful launch of H3G UK, the most aggressive 3G new entrant in Europe. Our main points:

What does this mean for the media industry? Does the increasing power of media buyers mean further downward pressure on rate cards? We suspect that many of the effects have already been felt, particularly in the European and US TV businesses. In fact, we see a different issue emerging: the explosion in advertising inventory in the last few years, which has resulted in a worldwide glut. This has coincided with what we think may be a permanent reduction in the absolute number of advertisers. As a result, media buyers will continue to obtain better terms, whether in buying as part of a large group or not, but media price deflation may be a feature of the industry for many years to come.

  • Hutchison 3G
Telecoms 1 May 2002

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