Spectrum Wars: Will AT&T Acquire Dish Network?

Spectrum Wars: Will AT&T Acquire Dish Network?

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If at first you don't succeed, try again. That's the approach AT&T (T) is making after it failed to gain FCC approval for a $39 billion bid for T-Mobile. Now the telecommunication company is setting its sights on Dish Network Corp. (DISH).

The fact is, AT&T is under a lot of pressure to add wireless spectrum, which are airwaves that provide video and other data services to customers. Had it completed its bid for T-Mobile, AT&T would have increased its 4G spectrum capacity by 62%.

Spectrum is important because the more spectrum a company has, the more market share it can reach. As you could imagine, the battle for the airwaves is an aggressive one.

Companies with claim to spectrum have quickly become merger and acquisition (M&A) targets for larger companies, and they don't come cheap. If AT&T completes a bid for Dish Network Corp. it may pay the highest premium in more than a decade.

Business Section: Investing in Wireless Communications Takeover Targets

Wireless communication is expected to be a massive growth industry for years to come, and companies are willing to spend big money to come out on top. In this case, acquiring spectrum, or companies with spectrum, is an effective means of ensuring dominance in the market.

When a company announces that it is acquiring another, the target's stock often jumps in price to reflect the takeover premium being paid for the company. This is why analysts pay special attention to rumored potential takeover/leveraged buyout (LBO) targets.

The kind of enthusiastic spending big names like Verizon (VZ), AT&T and Sprint (S) are engaging in could lead to some upside potential for wireless communication takeover/LBO targets.

Are you interested in trading on the trend? We identified three potential takeover/LBO targets in wireless communications from various sources including iStockAnalyst and Seeking Alpha. Do you think these companies are attractive takeover candidates?

 

Interactive Chart: Use the Compar-O-Matic to compare analyst ratings for all the stocks mentioned below.

 

1. Clearwire Corporation (CLWR, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Provides wireless broadband services. Market cap of $1.82B. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 11.54%.

 

2. Leap Wireless International Inc. (LEAP, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Provides digital wireless services under the Cricket brand name in the United States. Market cap of $784.74M. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 15.06% (equivalent to 5.57 days of average volume). The stock has recently rebounded, and is currently trading 13.63% above its SMA20 and 16.02% above its SMA50. However, the stock still trades -11.74% below its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.29% over the last week.

 

3. MetroPCS Communications, Inc. (PCS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): A wireless telecommunications carrier, together with its subsidiaries, provides wireless broadband mobile services in the United States. Market cap of $3.01B. Relatively low correlation to the market (beta = 0.71), which may be appealing to risk averse investors. The stock has lost 7.8% over the last year.

 

4. Telephone & Data Systems Inc. (TDS, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States. Market cap of $2.89B. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.91, and P/FCF ratio at 8.06. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.89% (equivalent to 13.69 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 7.2% over the last week.

 

(Written by Rebecca Lipman. List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA)

 

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