The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:UnitedHealth Group, Cablevision Systems, Viacom, DIRECTV and Time Warner Cable
CHICAGO, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC), Viacom Inc. (Nasdaq: VIAB), DIRECTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).
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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:
UnitedHealth Expands Internationally
In an effort to expand its international business UnitedHealthcare International, a unit of U.S. health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) has announced a global health insurance program called Global Solutions.
The program will be available for all the employers, small as well as big, based internationally.
UnitedHealth has tied up with MAXIMA Insurance, Inc., to provide its international health insurance service in the Czech Republic. In this region the company will be targeting all the expatriates which are mandated to hold a medical coverage as per the immigration rules of the country.
The insurer has also tied up with Medical Services Organisation in South Africa to provide cashless claim service. UnitedHealth will be providing its service to more than 30 countries in the African continent.
Yet another instance of UnitedHealth expanding its international operation was its buyout of Amil Participações S.A. of Brazil.
It is the long term strategy of the company to expand its international operations which provide a healthy margin. The roll out of this new program marks a strategic move by UnitedHealth, indicating aggressive international expansion at a time when growth in the domestic markets is facing pressures from the new regulations. Over time we expect more deals from the company, pertaining to its international expansion where it faces less competition.
UnitedHealthcare International has business operations in 123 countries across the globe.
Cablevision Brings Viacom to Court
Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) recently filed an antitrust law suit against media giant Viacom Inc. (Nasdaq: VIAB) for forcing the former to take up bundled TV channels, inclusive of less popular networks like CMT, MTV Hits, Nick Jr, Nicktoons, Palladia and VH1 Classic. The case is under wraps and not available for public viewing.
With respect to the litigation, Viacom believes that these Pay-TV operators actually gain from such deals as they get more channels at low cost.
At the end of last year, Cablevision and Viacom entered into a long-term agreement, under which the former will carry Viacom's network for an undisclosed amount. However, we believe that mounting programming costs and failure to strike a better bargain with Viacom has forced Cablevision to file such litigation against the media giant.
Generally, most media companies follow the similar business pattern of bundling their low rated channels with other popular channels, hence inflating the channel package rates.
Such harmful practices have not only increased programming expenses of cable and satellite TV operators but at the same time, have also affected margins in a big way. Moreover, the numbers of channel blackouts have also increased over the last year, resulting from disagreement between media partners and cable and satellite operators.
Last year, DIRECTV (Nasdaq: DTV) – the largest satellite TV operator in the U.S – failed to renew its contract with Viacom as the former was demanding a huge hike in fees, which resulted in blackout of channels for nine days. Finally, DIRECTV resumed its channel service by renewing the contract at a 20% higher rate.
Likewise, in 2012, higher demand for fees had forced Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to drop Ovation network while Dish Network Corp. too dropped AMC Network channels from their popular program lists.
So we believe that such serious allegation brought by Cablevision may raise big questions over the business model followed by the media companies.
Currently, Cablevision has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
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