I'm happy to say that my friend and longstanding mega-uber value reader, Paul Sijben, has started a blog and has a rather downbeat assessment of telco prospects as his first post. My favorite quote:
"I like to compare the old telcos to Polar Bears, strong and all-powerful in
their domain of frozen polar wasteland. However the ice-caps are melting and
this leaves them with an ever shrinking domain while the rest of the world is
taken over by the competition. This goes on until the ice sheet has melted
completely and the bears drown."
Wish I'd written that.
Paul's message mirrors some conversations I've had with clients recently (the gist of which is generally reflected here), regarding telcos' ability to innovate and think outside the box, and the lack of confidence evident in the sectors' huge underperformance in the stock market. On every occasion, I see the ghost of Juan Villalonga sitting in the corner - okay, he was waaaay too early and maybe execution wasn't all it could have been, but maybe he was on to something. Whatever the ultimate answer is, I think what investors are looking to see is whether telcos are in fact polar bears on a shrinking sheet of ice, or Arctic Monkeys (for those unfamiliar with them, this is a group from Sheffield who have attained record-setting levels of success despite [or perhaps because of] their tendency to break every rule of conventional music business strategy).