Quick Hits

Most Recent European Comp Suggests $50BN In US C-Band Auction Proceeds

We initiated on Intelsat this week with a Buy rating and $54 price target (+131%), based on our view that the C-Band auction will see much higher values than most investors realize (see initiation report HERE). One of the most common questions we have received is around what precedent transactions for similar spectrum in Europe tell us about the price the C-Band might fetch in the US. We follow up with some quick thoughts on the most recent European precedent, the 3.5GHz auction in Germany, in this brief note. Bottom line: the German auction value was very supportive of the US seeing $50BN in auction proceeds (the crux of our Intelsat Buy thesis and $54 target).

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Charter’s Share Repurchases Accelerated Sharply

Advance/Newhouse filed its most recent Charter ownership disclosure today, and with it we estimate that Charter’s share repurchases accelerated to $1.5BN in August, up from $0.7BN in July (and $0.3BN for each month in 2Q19).  This is consistent with our view that share repurchases were likely to accelerate in the back half of 2019, as we estimated Charter had capacity to repurchase $7BN of stock in all of 2019, but had only repurchased $2BN through the first half of the year.  Our estimate of $2.5BN in repurchases for Q3 may now look a touch conservative (QTD repurchases are already $2.2BN); however, for Charter to remain below leverage of 4.5x, we don’t see much room for repurchasing more than the $5BN we have estimated in repurchases in the second half of the year (additional repurchases in Q3 will therefore come out of our estimated repurchases in Q4).

We view the strong buybacks this quarter as a signal of management’s confidence in the business, particularly following a quarter where results disappointed investor expectations.  Mgmt. expressed further confidence in the business at an investor conference today, where they see a long runway for broadband penetration growth, margin expansion, and declining capital intensity.  Charter remains our top pick in US Cable.

Charter Share Repurchases Likely Flat At $1BN In 2Q19

Advance/Newhouse (A/N) filed its most recent Charter ownership disclosure last week, and with it we estimate that Charter repurchased $1BN of stock in 2Q19.  This would be commensurate with the amount of repurchases in Q1; however, it is lower than our prior estimate of $1.5BN.  Mgmt. is targeting leverage of 4.5x EBITDA; we believe they remain committed to this target.  We estimate that Charter should repurchase $7BN of stock in 2019 to land at 4.5x EBITDA; the company needs to accelerate repurchases to meet this target.  The company could have repurchased more stock than what is implied by the A/N filing.  If the $1BN in repurchases proves accurate, we see three possible reasons for lower-than-expected repurchases this quarter:  Continue reading “Charter Share Repurchases Likely Flat At $1BN In 2Q19”

T-Mobile / Sprint / DISH: What To Look Out For In A Remedy Package

According to press reports (LINK), the parties are nearing a deal in which DISH would acquire $6BN in assets from the merging companies (mostly spectrum & prepaid subs).  Presumably, the asset acquisition helps establish DISH as a credible enough fourth carrier such that the DOJ can approve the deal.  The state AG’s will then decide whether the divestitures and other conditions are sufficient to cure the competitive harms that they see arising from the deal.  If the concessions are along the lines we discuss below, we think the concessions could weaken the state’s case enough such that they drop their suit or lose in court, but it will depend on the details of the concessions. Continue reading “T-Mobile / Sprint / DISH: What To Look Out For In A Remedy Package”