Publications

Format: Dec 2016
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Commercial radio update: pressure continues

This report updates our coverage of the commercial radio sector. In Q1 2010, RAJAR data showed that the average number of hours listened per listener and the total number of hours listened, across both the commercial sector and the BBC, fell by 2.7% and 1.2% respectively compared to Q1 2009. This continues the long term trend of gradual consumption decline we have highlighted in the past. Another consistent trend is the relative robustness of listening to BBC radio, whilst the brunt of the decline is borne by the commercial sector

Whilst BBC radio is funded by the licence fee, the commercial sector relies on advertising, which was severely impacted by the recession in 2008-09, on top of the structural shift of advertising to the internet. Oversupply of radio inventory continues to cause downward pressure on ad rates. As the UK economy exited recession in Q4 2009, commercial revenues rose 6.3% over Q4 2008, after six consecutive quarters of revenue decline. Q1 2010 is expected to come in at approximately 7-8%, with more modest positive growth in Q2

Public sector advertising, which includes procurement by the Central Office of Information (COI), has proved to be a significant source of income for radio (18.9% of revenues in 2009, COI itself accounting for 11.5%). On 24 May George Osborne announced that, with the exception of previously committed and “essential” campaigns, further COI advertising will be put on hold until March 2011. Based on this understanding about COI spend, which will translate to a small negative impact in H2 2010, we expect H2 2010 to be flat. Overall, we forecast small, positive annual growth of commercial segment revenues of 2.5% for 2010

Whilst income is being compressed, the cost of serving dual analogue and digital transmission remains a strain. Ofcom’s ongoing deregulation will have a small positive impact on costs. However, further station closures are entirely possible, especially if COI spend continues to be squeezed

  • BBC
Music and Radio, Media 26 May 2010
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

Steve Jobs has suggested a multi-billion dollar revenue potential – the true figure could be a tenth of that, but the real value of iAd will be in defending and supporting the iPhone

  • Google
  • Apple
Mobile, Telecoms, Internet, Media 25 May 2010
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

The acquisition of Trusted Places announced on 19 May signals a strategic shift into social media and is a necessary risk for Yell – as both challenge and opportunity for Yell’s future under new management in the fast changing business marketing ecosystem

 

Media 25 May 2010
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

Vodafone Europe could move back into positive revenue growth this year as it rides the wave of market recovery, but short term margin targets will be hard to hit as handset subsidies continue to rise

 

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 18 May 2010
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

 

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 16 May 2010
TTG update and strategy day: changing the mix

TTG’s indicative full year financial results were solid, but were flattered by the acquisition of Tiscali UK in July 2009

Subscriber growth at TalkTalk is exceptionally strong thanks to effective marketing and a strong proposition, if somewhat at the expense of the acquired businesses

Guidance for the new financial year looks undemanding given additional uplift from Tiscali UK; further underlying progress will depend crucially on continuing strong growth at TalkTalk and old fashioned operating leverage based on a single set of platforms, rather than new developments such as high speed broadband or TV

  • TalkTalk
  • Carphone Warehouse
Fixed Line, Telecoms 11 May 2010
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

These initiatives should help to drive Facebook’s user growth and engagement and ultimately improve monetisation, which we estimate on a per user basis is now more than half that of Microsoft’s online properties

 

  • Facebook
Internet, Media 6 May 2010
All about multi-products: Sky fiscal Q3 2010 results

 

Sky Q3 2010 adjusted revenues showed strong year-on-year growth of around ten percent in the year to date (10.7%), and in the third quarter (11.1%), marked by strong product sales into its existing subscriber base, especially in HD, but also solid progress in broadband, telephony and line rental

The rise in revenues was more than matched by a rise in costs (up 11.7% in the first nine months); however, this was largely accounted for by a one-off rise in programming costs in the wake of Setanta’s departure in June 2009 and upfront HD investment and direct network costs associated with the strong growth in product take-up

Once the HD and direct network investment costs driving product growth have washed through, Sky appears well on track to deliver operating margin growth into the upper twenties for its TV business and into the high single digits for its telecoms business; which we expect to experience little direct material impact in the next five years from the implementation of the Ofcom wholesale must-offer remedy

 

  • Sky
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 4 May 2010
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

 

  • France Telecom
Non-UK Telecoms, Fixed Line, Telecoms 4 May 2010
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

DTT viewers should now be able to access live Premier League and other premium sports action on Sky Sports 1 and 2 from the start of the 2010/11 football season; but the ability of BT and Top-Up TV to capitalise depends on several factors, among them the possibility of Sky launching Picnic should it satisfy Ofcom’s limited preconditions for that service

  • Virgin Media
  • Sky
  • BT
Media, TV 3 May 2010
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

  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, Media 28 April 2010
Carphone Warehouse Group March 2010 quarter trading update: riding recovery?

CPW grew its core European mobile handset distribution business in underlying like-for-like revenue terms by 3% in the March quarter, and its profits grew by 18% in the 2009/10 year, although connection volumes and actual revenue fell during the quarter

Growth is improving with the recovery, but not dramatically, as its strong competitive performance during the recession is unwinding to some extent. Nonetheless, 2010/11 should see continued improvement, with handset trends still generally going in CPW’s direction

The company is currently more than covering the start-up losses at its ‘big box’ consumer electronics business in the UK through steady growth at CPW Europe and dramatic growth in the US, and should continue to do so in 2010/11. However, thereafter there is far more uncertainty, as the big box business will have to start trading well to prevent accelerating losses, and we have no visibility over its prospects as yet

 

  • Carphone Warehouse
Telecoms, Mobile, Non-UK Telecoms 28 April 2010
Election winners and losers: revisited

A hung Parliament now appears the most likely outcome of the UK general election on 6 May, giving the Liberal Democrats influence, in terms of votes and seats, over the next government

Because the Lib Dems are ideologically closer to Labour than to the Conservatives, we anticipate their influence will favour the policy and regulatory status quo in media and telecommunications in relation to the proposals made by the Conservatives

This influence would be strongest in a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, but also would persist in a Conservative minority government, reducing the likelihood of a new legislative framework for media as proposed by the Conservatives

  • Sky
  • ITV
  • BBC
Media 26 April 2010
Google UK Q1 results: reaccelerating

Google’s UK revenue increased 18% YoY in Q1 to £534 million (net of hedging gains), its highest rate of quarterly growth since the recession started in 2008

Better than expected performance is due to reacceleration in paid search, underpinned by improving levels of retail e-commerce and business and advertiser confidence

We have raised our 2010 forecast for Google UK to 18% YoY growth and for UK online ad spend to £3,875 million, representing a like-for-like rise of 13% YoY

  • Google
Internet, Media 19 April 2010
Frenzied innovation: the iPad and print publishers

The iPad is a beautiful device that offers new ways to consume and interact with content. It takes ideas that have been discussed for decades and turns them into a (fairly) practical consumer product

The iPad poses huge challenges for print publishers, since it
has the potential both to unlock the benefits of digital for them, but also to remove
the last remaining advantages of their physical products

However, the iPad costs at least $500 and is hard to see as essential
for anyone. While there is real money to be made here, it will take a long time
to match the scale that comes from 10m people buying a newspaper every day in the
UK

  • Apple
Press, Media, Internet 13 April 2010
Winners and losers of the May 2010 general election
The outlook for ad-supported UK media businesses is brighter in the short term than in the medium term, irrespective of who wins the election, since fiscal tightening is inevitable early in the next parliament
We expect the Conservatives, should they win, to favour commercial media (Sky, ITV) over the BBC in general and in particular in the upcoming negotiations on the licence fee settlement post 2013
Super-fast broadband networks enjoy cross-party support, but Labour’s 50 pence landline tax was blocked by the Conservatives, who prefer to use a small portion of the BBC licence fee
  • Sky
  • ITV
  • BBC
Media 8 April 2010
UK TV NAR bouncing back

After falling 16% across 2008 and 2009, UK TV NAR (net advertising revenue) looks like it will grow 10% year on year in 2010, amidst continued lack of visibility over the UK’s post election economic outlook

 

Ofcom’s consultation on the rules governing advertising proposes to scrap the withholding of advertising rule that applies to commercial analogue PSB channels, along with the conditional selling rule that applies to all broadcasters – neither action will have any short term material effect

Ahead of Ofcom is the different airtime quota and distribution rules that apply to commercial analogue PSB over other channels. Equalisation will favour the commercial PSB groups, but views diverge on where to equalise, up or down

 

TV, Media 8 April 2010
UK mobile termination rates: terminated

Ofcom is proposing to cut the UK mobile termination rate from 4.3ppm in 2010/11 to 0.5ppm in 2014/15. While a steep cut was expected, the extent is a surprise

The direct impact on the mobile operators is severe: a 13% impact on revenue over four years, and a 10% impact on EBITDA. While some of this may be mitigated by selective price increases, we expect the bulk to be taken on the nose

This is bad news for most UK mobile operators, but good news for the fixed operators and H3G. It also sets a worrying precedent for regulators across Europe, with the UK once again at the vanguard of low MTR setting

 

Mobile, Telecoms 5 April 2010
Iliad withstands new competitive pressures

France’s altnet Iliad again delivered stronger than expected profit and cash flow growth in 2009 on the back of continued strong results at the Free brand and a positive contribution from the Alice brand

These results demonstrate the continued pull of Free for the triple play customer despite intensifying competition, including from cable, making the low cost, low churn business model sustainable

By 2012, we expect fixed line profitability to increase and deliver enough cash flow to finance the launch of the Free Mobile project

  • Iliad
Non-UK Telecoms, Fixed Line, Telecoms 31 March 2010
H3G 2009 full year results: steadily loss-making

H3G Group organic service revenue growth was just 0.2% in Europe in 2009, with EBITDA now roughly breakeven and cashflow remaining firmly stuck in negative territory, and lower subscriber net adds driving most of the EBITDA improvement

H3G UK is outperforming the UK market, but only just, and remains loss-making. Its prospects for 2011 are good, with its network share roll-out likely to have been completed and lower termination rates likely to be implemented, and the Orange/T-Mobile merger could provide significant long term benefits, but it will still require significant investment to gain scale

H3G Australia is now a sound business after the merger with Vodafone Australia, but all of the European businesses are sub-scale, with significant further investment and/or M&A activity required to reach sustainable profitability

  • Hutchison 3G
Mobile, Telecoms 30 March 2010

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