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Dodge and Cox's Charles Pohl says competition is working out to the advantage of the cable companies and valuations look ...
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Attractive Valuations for Cable Companies
Dan Culloton: You guys, also have a very large waiting in media stocks which like technology stocks that sometimes are subject to very fierce competition, very technological upgrades that can be really disruptive to the business models. What gives you the confidence in the media, particularly the cable companies that you own, that they continue to earn reasonable profits and cash flows over you time?
Charles Pohl: Oh, we spend a lot of time with the cable companies looking at potential competitive threats. And originally, most markets, the cable companies had a monopoly position. And so, one potential threat is satellite. Now, we’re invested in both addition direct TV, so we have a pretty good understanding of what those guys are trying to do and what they are capable of doing relative to the cable companies.
We also spend time trying to look at new technologies that might be able to impact that franchise. So far, we don’t see anything that’s really possibly going to come to fruition in a kind of a reasonable time horizon.
There are incursions being made into the cable basis by both Verizon with FiOS product which is fibered direct to the home and also, from AT&T with U-verse. We think there is some technological issues that AT&T and has struggled with U-verse. Verizon is the fiber to the home is a very expensive solution. So there is some question as to how many markets they will be able to roll that out in and how quickly.
At the same time that the phone companies are trying to attack the cable basis of subscribers and there is some issues with the attacks both there in terms of Verizon with the cost of it's solution, in terms of AT&T with the actual technology, the solution. The cable companies are going after the phone customers of those companies, and the internet access customers, and they are making considerably great headway in terms of attracting those customers than the phone companies are in terms of taking away cable customers.
So net there, we think that competition is working out to the advantage of the cable companies. And if you look at the evaluations that those command in the market place today and you compare it to the cash flow, they certainly appear to be very attractive investments to us, provided that somebody doesn’t figure out a way to damage those franchises. And we spend a lot of time researching and we don’t really see how that is going to happen right now, but it’s a continuing ongoing research effort for us.