FiOS: Bad news in Big Apple for Time Warner Cable?
Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield downgraded Time Warner Cable on Monday with one eye on Verizon’s launch of FiOS TV in New York (You have to register to read the link).
Verizon got approval to roll out FiOS TV just last week and is expected to begin installations as soon as August. Reuters ran an analysis last week that showed that Verizon’s roll-out of FiOS will be expensive for the phone company and its cable competitors, particularly Time Warner Cable.
Greenfield said New York City represents only 10 percent of Time Warner Cable’s subscriber base, but its average revenue per user is well above average.
Here’s where he sees Verizon earning points:
– His own anecdotal research found many TWC customer service reps hadn’t even heard of FiOS.
– Verizon’s customer service reps indicated early demand for FiOS is robust. (Greenfield accepts they might have been biased.)
– Triple Play pricing pressure could come to New York with Verizon offering a six-month promotional offer as low as $70 a month for TV, phone and high speed Internet compared with $120 a month for TWC.
Greenfield’s decision to downgrade TWC to “sell” from “neutral” is not just about Verizon — there’s the economy to consider as well. He still feels TWC’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) will grow by up to 10 percent, but said that requires strong performance in the second half of the year.
“TWC’s margins generally ramp in the back half of the year and political advertising should accelerate as the year progresses, however, the weakening economy does make our 2008 estimates feel aggressive.”