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25 Mar 19: Tom Harrington appeared on BBC World News to discuss Apple

Tom Harrington appeared on BBC World News to discuss the launch of Apple's new streaming service

Women at Work 2018

To celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March 2018 in the centenary of the partial suffrage, Women at Work 2018 promotes the goals of professional women in the UK 

 

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  • Vodafone
  • Media
  • Telecoms

Vodafone’s operating performance worsened again this quarter with revenues down 3.3% and an extension of its underperformance relative to peers 

Vodafone was right to cut its dividend given the extremity of the cash constraint. With financials in Euro terms in negative territory and worsening, an elevated and progressive dividend was not sustainable 

In spite of difficult market conditions, the lower end of guidance looks achievable as comparables will become easier and football rights costs decline. The transformation programme will need to pay off fast to deliver any meaningful growth
 

  • BT
  • EE
  • Media
  • Telecoms

BT is accelerating its ‘full fibre’ rollout, likely due to a combination of a successful build to date, very promising regulatory developments, and (let’s not deny it) worrying competitor build plans

Full year results were a little weak versus consensus, with guidance a little soft as well, leading to questions of how this can be funded, particularly the roll-out acceleration from 2021/22 to cover half the country by the mid-2020s

Whatever the funding mechanism, we regard the investment as sound, with BT’s planned operational transformation also promising but potentially requiring further upfront investment

  • Virgin Media
  • Media
  • Telecoms

Q1 results evidenced the downturn that Virgin Media had flagged in February. Consumer cable weakened sharply to just 1% growth vs 3%+ historically, partly thanks to ‘increased promotions in response to market dynamics’

Monetising Virgin’s speed advantage is becoming more challenging. Competition is hotting up for high-speed broadband in particular, fuelled by Openreach targets for smaller players and BT’s full fibre and G.fast rollouts

The company faces two vital strategic decisions – whether to wholesale BT’s fibre products outside its footprint, and whether to allow wholesale access to its own network. The former is likely to have the most legs and offers an alternative to further Lightning extension

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Comcast
  • Sky
  • Walt Disney
  • Non-UK Media
  • Media
  • TV

Disney announced that it would acquire Comcast’s 33% share of Hulu in a put/call agreement that can be enacted by either party from January 2024, while taking full operational control of the vehicle immediately

Under the agreement Disney will pay Comcast a minimum of $9 billion for its current stake, provided Comcast fulfils agreed capital calls, which going forward would be just over $500 million/year

Disney secured the continued licensing of NBCUniversal content for Hulu, contributing about 30% of Hulu’s library, but Comcast can loosen obligations to Hulu for the launch of its own SVOD service in 2020

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Media
  • Technology

After the most challenging period in its history since 2012, Facebook has been able to stabilise its fundamental metrics and announce a major product overhaul

Despite talk of a business model pivot, Facebook’s focus remains on advertising, whose growth will remain concentrated in developed markets

News publishers wishing to stay relevant on the upgraded product set need to target exclusive layers of social interaction, with groups particularly important

  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Media
  • Telecoms
  • TV

Sky made a surprisingly weak start to 2019, with revenue growth decelerating to 1.9% (the first time below 4% since the European businesses merged in 2015), due to weaker ARPU trends

However, Sky expects improvement to follow, blaming one-off factors in the quarter. The ARPU weakness drove EBITDA down 11.3%, but this should bounce back across the rest of 2019 as football rights costs turn from a drag to a positive

Comcast highlighted collaborations with Sky across tech, advertising, content distribution and even news, stating it is on track to achieve the anticipated $500 million in annual synergies over the next couple of years