The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:DISH Network, DIRECTV, Netflix, Sprint and Vulcan Materials

Jan 14, 2014, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Jan. 14, 2014 /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 the DISH Network Corp. (Nasdaq:DISH-Free Report), DIRECTV (Nasdaq:DTV-Free Report), Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX-Free Report), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S-Free Report) and Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE: VMC-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

DISH Withdraws LightSquared Bid

DISH Network Corp.'s (Nasdaq:DISH-Free Report) objective to set up its own terrestrial wireless network seems a distant possibility as it has recently annulled its plan to acquire bankrupt wireless broadband company, LightSquared Inc. DISH is the second largest satellite TV operator in the U.S. after DIRECTV (Nasdaq:DTV-Free Report).

In May 2013, DISH offered $2.22 billion to acquire 40 MHz of wireless spectrum held by LightSquared. However, Harbinger Capital Partners, the principal owner of LightSquared, rejected this bid stating that DISH had resorted to fraudulent means to enter the bidding process. As a result has decided to invest nearly $4 billion in LightSquared for further restructuring of the company.

In Oct 2013, a Manhattan bankruptcy judge approved DISH's bid and had set an auction date on Nov 25, 2013. Earlier, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had refused the use of this particular airwave as it was interfering with the global positioning system. This had led to LightSquared's bankruptcy. Later on, the FCC conducted more tests on the spectrum and eventually permitted an auction with a few modifications.

DISH Network has been holding 40 MHz of unused satellite spectrum for the last two years in its portfolio along with the FCC backing. We believe that the company's attempt to enter the wireless market is a diversification strategy to counter stiff competition arising from low-cost video streaming companies like Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq:NFLX-Free Report) and Hulu.

However, to set up wireless network without any wireless partner will be an extremely difficult task as it requires huge investment and marketing support. Moreover, 40 MHz of spectrum is not enough to cover the entire footprint.

Earlier, DISH Network also failed to acquire both Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S-Free Report) and its subsidiary Clearwire. Such deal failures will not only delay the company's wireless deployment goals but will also result in subscriber loss going forward.

Currently, DISH Network carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Vulcan Upped to Outperform

On Jan 9, we upped our recommendation on Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE: VMC-Free Report) from Neutral to Outperform based on strong third-quarter 2013 results.

Why Retention?

Vulcan announced impressive third-quarter results on Nov 4. Third-quarter adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 28%. Earnings per share improved significantly from the prior-year quarter on the back of solid revenue increase in most of the segments.

Total revenue also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate and increased 11.6% from the prior-year quarter owing to pricing gains and volume growth. The growth was driven by improved product demand owing to broad based recovery in private construction activity, especially residential. Improved demand also favored pricing across most of its markets. Gross profit and adjusted EBITDA also grew strongly driven by strong top line and solid cost control.

Additionally, most of the volume and pricing increase was noted in the aggregates segment which was sluggish in the past few quarters. Management is seeing improving trends in aggregates' requirement as private construction demand is growing with the recovery in the overall housing industry. The demand for highway construction is also expected to grow gradually with increased funding certainty from the new highway bill and an expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

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