Much better Get: AT&T vs. Comcast

AT&T (NYSE:T) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are two of America’s greatest telecom and media conglomerates. Each…

AT&T (NYSE:T) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are two of America’s greatest telecom and media conglomerates. Each firms give broadband world-wide-web, shell out Television set, landline, and wireless providers in the U.S.

Both businesses are also media juggernauts. AT&T’s WarnerMedia division owns Warner Bros., HBO, and the Turner Cable Networks. Comcast’s NBCUniversal owns NBC, Universal Studios, its eponymous topic parks, and a broad portfolio of cable networks.

Picture source: Getty Visuals.

In excess of the earlier 5 many years, AT&T’s inventory has declined a lot more than 20{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} as it is struggled with unwieldy acquisitions, mounting debt, competitors in the wireless current market, and the sluggish dying of its fork out Television set business.

During the exact interval, Comcast’s inventory has rallied almost 90{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} as the energy of its internet, media, and topic park firms offset some of its other weaknesses. Will Comcast carry on to outperform AT&T more than the next number of several years? Let us choose a new appear at equally providers to find out.

AT&T is spinning much too numerous plates

AT&T’s latest problems began in 2015, when it bought DirecTV for $66 billion to expand its pay out Tv small business. However, the platform has repeatedly shed subscribers to streaming companies like Netflix.

To counter that secular drop, AT&T acquired Time Warner for $85 billion in 2018 to create its own streaming companies. Those people huge acquisitions, alongside with its buys of some spectrum licenses, brought about its complete personal debt to soar from $82.1 billion at the finish of 2014 to $147.5 billion at the close of 2020.

AT&T introduced numerous streaming expert services previous 12 months, but the pandemic seriously disrupted WarnerMedia’s Tv set and film firms. In the meantime, its shell out Television company ongoing to bleed subscribers, culminating in its choice to spin off a stake in DirecTV in a joint venture in February.

As AT&T attempted to offset the decrease of its fork out Tv company by increasing its streaming providers, T-Cell merged with Dash and replaced it as the 2nd-biggest wi-fi carrier in the U.S. after Verizon. Via the use of longer-variety 5G networks, T-Mobile also surpassed both equally AT&T and Verizon in phrases of full community protection.

AT&T’s hottest earnings experiences unveiled a number of inexperienced shoots, which includes the development of HBO Max and the stabilization of the firm’s wireless enterprise, but its weaknesses continue to offset most of its strengths — which caused its revenue and altered earnings to drop 5{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} and 11{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce}, respectively, in fiscal 2020.

Wall Avenue expects AT&T’s earnings to rise less than 1{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} this calendar year and for its earnings to dip 1{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} as it carries on its unpleasant turnaround. Which is why its inventory continue to doesn’t seem to be inexpensive at nine periods forward earnings.

Comcast’s moves make a lot a lot more sense

Comcast also manufactured various acquisitions in excess of the earlier five a long time, which includes Dreamworks Animation in 2016, Sky in 2018, and the free of charge streaming media platform Xumo last 12 months. It also partnered with Verizon to start a wireless support called Xfinity Cell.

A young woman watches TV in a dark room.

Picture resource: Getty Photos.

On the other hand, Comcast invested substantially significantly less cash on people discounts than AT&T, and they each and every in good shape neatly into its media business enterprise. Dreamworks additional far more animated films to its theatrical slate although providing its theme parks more attributes to do the job with, Sky expanded its portfolio of cable networks and its reach in the U.K. sector, Xumo supported the launch of Comcast’s no cost Peacock streaming service, and Xfinity Mobile increased its telco bundles.

Comcast’s lengthy-expression financial debt also rose noticeably, from $48.2 billion in fiscal 2014 to $103.8 billion in 2020, but its main enterprise stays more stable than AT&T’s.

Last calendar year, steep profits declines at NBCUniversal — which struggled with lessen advert earnings, postponed flicks, and closures at its theme parks all through the pandemic — offset the stronger expansion of the cable communications segment’s internet and wi-fi businesses. Which is why Comcast’s profits and altered earnings declined 5{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} and 17{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce}, respectively, in fiscal 2020.

Even so, analysts assume Comcast’s earnings and earnings to rise 8{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} and 9{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce}, respectively, this year as its media business recovers and its topic parks reopen. The Olympic Games in Japan must also deliver more viewers to NBC this 12 months, as they did in former many years, and perhaps carry more streaming viewers to Peacock.

Comcast could possibly to begin with look pricier than AT&T at 16 times ahead earnings, but it is really basically substantially cheaper relative to its progress.

But what about the dividends?

AT&T’s ahead dividend produce of 6.9{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} is substantially better than Comcast’s 1.8{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} generate. Having said that, AT&T also constantly wiped out most of its dividend gains with its declining stock selling price. About the previous 5 years, AT&T created a complete return of 3{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} soon after factoring in reinvested dividends. Comcast produced a whole return of 107{6557c92bab376e861f4db2362dd750ed9808ade9f2baf81ac39a444313a64dce} for the duration of the exact same period of time.

Past effectiveness under no circumstances ensures upcoming gains, but AT&T’s ongoing problems recommend it will continue to underperform Comcast, which should really conveniently get back its footing after the pandemic passes. 


This posting signifies the belief of the author, who may well disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool quality advisory assistance. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even just one of our personal — assists us all consider critically about investing and make selections that aid us become smarter, happier, and richer.