Analysts say satellite broadcaster will be big winner from new streaming services thanks to its programming
BSkyB will prove the big winner in new streaming services offered to consumers, according to City analysts, despite BT‘s current push into the home entertainment market.
Exane BNP Paribas said Sky’s strength in programme – from films to sport – would give it an advantage despite BT winning the rights to various football and rugby events.
Exane’s Michael Williams raised his target price for BSkyB from 850p to 920p, saying:
Sky’s model of reinvesting growth back into securing more exclusive content, so enriching the proposition and driving further growth, was looking challenged as the subscription market matured (programming costs outpacing subscription revenue growth). Over-the-top [streaming services] adds a new opportunity to drive growth from the established cost base – it has the potential to reinvigorate the model. Those looking to challenge the established order face an up-hill task.
He cut his target for BT from 270p to 250p and moved from buy to neutral:
BT has secured around 250 hours per annum of sports content for £280m a year – add production and conditional access costs and 3.7m customers at £10 a month will be needed to cover this commitment. BT must now invest in more content – but Sky has the vast majority of its rights secured through 2015. How compelling, and at what cost ‘BT Sports’?
BSkyB closed 5p higher at 725p, while BT dropped 4.8p to 228.2p.
Overall investors paused for breath after last week’s rises, which had been inspired by news of a further round of quantitative easing from the US Federal Reserve and an easing of Spanish and Italian bond yields. With renewed anxiety about a Spanish bailout sending yields higher again and worse than expected US manufacturing data, the FTSE 100 finished 22.03 points lower at 5893.52.
China growth worries hit commodity shares, with Evraz down 9.7p at 284p and Rio Tinto falling 65.5p to £32.16.
Admiral fell 5p to £11.18 as Espirito Santo issued a sell note on the insurance group, based on the outlook and the prospect of investors selling up to invest in the forthcoming Direct Line flotation. The broker said:
Admiral’s business model is highly geared to growth yet the first half demonstrated how the company is coming under increasing pressure from softer UK insurance pricing, regulatory change and most importantly in our view, a decision to rein in volume growth. With turnover and pretax profit growth slowing to 7% in the first half, consensus of 12% growth for the second half looks too aggressive to us and the 13 times PE multiple still implies a growth stock yet growth seems to be disappearing. As an income stock the 7% yield is attractive, but similar yields are available elsewhere in the sector at cheaper valuations.
From a technical perspective the imminent IPO of Direct Line will bring selling pressure to the UK property and casualty insurance names (£1bn new free float expected) and with Admiral’s revenue and margins under pressure this would appear to be a good time to take profits.
Vodafone lost 2.2p to 173.65p following reports it might be planning to make a $2.2bn provision against possible Indian tax liabilities.
In January the mobile operator won a court ruling against the Indian government’s demand for payments relating to the company’s purchase in 2007 of Hutchison Whampoa’s operations in the country. Following the defeat, the Indian government amended the law to apply it retroactively, which could yet leave Vodafone liable.
The company had so far resisted setting aside a provision for any potential tax bill, but chief financial officer Andy Halford told Bloomberg it may change its mind.
But Unilever added 23p to £22.68 after UBS raised its recommendation from neutral to buy and its price target from £22 to £24
Among the mid-caps Cable & Wireless Communications climbed 1.72p to 38.25p after it confirmed earlier reports that Bahrain Telecoms was in talks to buy the company’s assets in Monaco & Islands in a deal said to be worth around $1bn.
Chemring rose 2.4p to 348.4p, awaiting bid developments. US private equity group Carlyle has received an extension until 12 October to decide whether or not to proceed with a bid for the defence company. Weekend reports suggested that Invesco, which holds more than 29% of Chemring was holding out for 450p a share.
Man, the hedge fund group which has been under pressure in recent months on worries about its growth prospects, added 1.1p to 89.6p on revived bid talk. Traders suggested possible US interest – again – with a price of 150p a share mentioned.
Ophir Energy fell 33p to 608p despite a positive update on its drilling programme in Equatorial Guinea. Over the weekend came reports that Tanzania’s energy minister had ordered a review of all contracts with oil and gas explorers operating in the country. Ophir chief executive Nick Cooper said:
Ophir has a track record of leading the exploration of offshore Tanzania, with six discoveries from six wells to date, and is fully compliant from an operational and regulatory perspective in all of its Tanzanian licenses. Ophir welcomes the review process and, with the re-commencement of drilling in early October, looks forward to another high impact drilling programme.
Finally Ocado dipped 0.45p to 73.6p after Philip Dorgan at Panmure Gordon again raised the prospect of the online grocer breaching one of its covenants. In a sell note with a 50p price target, he said:
The third quarter is unlikely to have seen sales growth accelerate and this means that it is possible that Ocado could breech its net debt to EBITDA covenant this year. Consensus for net debt to EBITDA for 2012 is 3.2 times versus the covenant which requires it to be below 3.5 times and our forecast for 4.4 times. It all looks a little tight. However, the company remain publicly confident that there will be no breech, with the chief executive labelling those who speculate to that effect as ‘foolish’ as recently as the 18 August in The Sunday Telegraph.
[But] standing alone against the largest retailers in the country with a pile of debt and falling market share isn’t sustainable. A starting point for the valuation of the company will be its net asset value, which is 33p, including 53p of non-current assets. We remain sellers with a target price of 50p because, although we now believe that Ocado’s days as a public company are limited, we don’t think that the equity is worth very much.
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