Stock down substantially over the last few months. Southern Europe continues to be a drag on service revenue. Vodafone still has plenty of cash on hand and share buybacks are helping cash flow.
Despite a nearly 10% drop in the S&P 500, many of the best dividend-paying stocks have stubbornly remained above the fray. Only energy stocks and a few others have fallen significantly. Those looking for a juicy yield without sacrificing quality might look into Vodafone PLC (NASDAQ:VOD). Vodafone is a British-based telecom giant with the core of its business in Europe but with a significant collection of businesses in emerging markets. It is the number two telecommunications provider in Britain, the UK and a number of other emerging markets.
I last wrote about Vodafone on July 31st, and I mentioned that while I had sold out of my position, I would look at Vodafone again if the American Depository Receipt shares came down to $30 or below. The latest downward action brought Vodafone below $30 per ADR share, and as of today shares now sit at $30.48.
It’s no secret that BSkyB (Sky Broadband) has an ambition to launch their own mobile service in the United Kingdom and they’ve already held exploratory talks with Vodafone (here), so fresh reports today that the media giant has been discussing a similar proposition with other mobile operators will probably not come as much of a shock. According to The Times (paywall), Sky has recently been in discussions with both EE and O2 about the possibility of forming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) partnership like the one that BT + Virgin Media have with EE and TalkTalk with Vodafone. BT is expected to launch their own consumer mobile service around April 2015 and that would leave Sky as the only major Pay TV + Home Broadband ISP without the ability to offer a mobile service (i.e. triple-play only). Sky’s prior interest in Vodafone was also understandable given that they already provide TV content to Voda’s 4G customers and Voda itself has been considering a return to the home broadband market (Sky might be able to help them there), although so far a year has passed without any agreement.
Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB, said: “We’ll always remain open to opportunities, and this is something that we keep a close eye on. We keep our options under review. If we thought there was strong customer demand, then we can be in a good place to respond. We’ve got a very significant customer base already that we know we can cross-sell into very successfully.”
Darroch also said last week that BSkyB was speaking with all of the country’s primary mobile operators, although it’s noted that Three UK aren’t listed in today’s piece on The Times and Sky’s recent Q3 2014 results passed without any major new product launches or predictions for future product launches in the mobile space. But if a deal is to be done then Sky will need to stop dragging their feet and make a decision, otherwise there will be even less opportunity to attract customers away from their rivals. Vodafone might be a logical choice for Sky but it’s understandable that they’d wish to consider alternatives, especially as this may help their negotiating position.
Clearly Sky, in order to maintain the confidence of shareholders in such an aggressively competitive market, will need a mobile service. But in reality it probably wouldn’t hurt them that much if they don’t do one.
A recent survey conducted by ourselves found that just 8% of the 700 respondents currently get their mobile and home broadband service from the same provider and, when asked whether an ISP would be more attractive if it could also offer a competitive mobile service alongside
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