Schroder Investment Is Bullish on T-Mobile (TMUS) Amid Strong 5G Future Growth

Schroder Investment Management Group, a multinational asset management company, published its fourth-quarter 2020 Investor Letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. A return of 7.40% was recorded by the fund for the year end 2020, below its MSCI World TR Net benchmark that delivered a 13.5% return. You can view the fund’s top 5 holdings in their letter.

Schroder Investment Management said in their letter that they are hopeful for T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS)’s growth. T-Mobile US, Inc. is a broadband internet access services provider that currently has a $155.4 billion market cap. For the past 3 months, TMUS delivered a 1.39% return and settled at $125.28 per share at the closing of February 5th.

Here is what Schroder Investment Management has to say about T-Mobile US, Inc. in their investor letter:

“T-Mobile US, Inc.’s (“TMUS”) 2020 merger with Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”) was transformational. The company now controls c.45% of low/mid-band spectrum (which is crucial for 5G) but has only 29% of industry subscribers. We expect this gap to narrow over time, via market share gains, while the deal will also generate significant merger synergies; TMUS should, consequently, achieve substantial profits and free cash flow growth over the next 3-4 years.

TMUS has, hitherto, had an inferior network to its peers, and achieved its subscriber growth via very effective marketing and lower prices, encapsulated in its ‘un-carrier’ approach.

In the 5G era, however, it will have a much better network than its peers – as well as lower prices – because it has more of the critical mid-band (2.5GHz) spectrum than AT&T Inc. (“T”) and Verizon Communications Inc. (“VZ”) combined.

The value of this advantage is reflected in the very aggressive C-Band auction currently underway, in which all three companies have likely spent heavily; T and VZ to supplement their holdings of the key enabling asset for the new 5G era, and TMUS to reinforce its advantage and force its peers to leverage up, so they will be less likely to compete on price. The proceeds from this auction have already reached $81bn (and will entail further substantial spending to ready it for use).

Thus, TMUS is targeting the rollout of its 2.5GHz spectrum across 100mn and 200mn POPs by the end of 2020 and 2021 respectively; this will allow it to offer average speeds of 300Mbps (peak speeds >1Gbps) to subscribers (using only 60MHz of the total 160MHz it owns). Its coverage/offer will be far superior to the competition: T’s standard 5G speeds are 40-60Mbps (i.e. barely faster than 4G LTE); VZ’s 5G ultra-wideband network will offer faster speeds (in theory up to multi-Gbps) but currently covers only 2mn POPs, and is difficult to scale because the mmWave spectrum, on which it relies, propagates only over very short distances and is subject to interference (e.g. by foliage).

It is unlikely that the C-band auction will allow T/VZ to rectify their considerable spectrum lag relative to TMUS: 280MHz is being sold, and VZ requires c.190MHz and T c.150MHz to match TMUS. And the spectrum will take considerable time to clear and be deployed (120MHz clears in December 2021 and 160MHz in December 2023). It is also worth noting C-Band is not nearly as good as TMUS’ 2.5GHz – it has weaker propagation characteristics, thus requiring a much denser network grid which is more costly.

We forecast TMUS to grow its market share of subs by only 100bps per annum 2021-2024, i.e. in line with its prior rates, despite having a better network and cheaper pricing than T/VZ. The key risk to this is stronger competition from Dish Network Corp (“Dish”), who must build out a 5G network as part of the TMUS/Sprint merger conditions. However, it will take time for it to truly be a viable competitor (it targets 50% US POP coverage by 2023), and T/VZ likely have more to lose from a new competitor given their higher prices.

The company has guided to $6.7bn of cost synergies over the next 3-4 years. These have so far come in faster than expected, and we feel that TMUS may exceed its guidance (it beat its targets for the MetroPCS acquisition by 40% and achieved them 1 year early). Network costs represent 63% of expected synergies, and these are cost savings from the decommissioning of cell sites, as the company moves from 110K today to 85K over the next few years. Back office and sales and marketing cost saves will yield the rest.

We estimate that costs/sub will drop from their current c.$26 to c.$19 by 2024 (broadly in-line with VZ) helping drive service margins from 40% to 56%, in-line with T but still well below VZ’s 66% (reflecting TMUS’ lower prices). The combination of modest 3-4% per annum revenue growth, high cost take-out, and declining capital intensity should drive normalised FCF/share to c.$16 in 2024 implying a multiple of c.9x. We feel this is attractive given TMUS’s spectrum advantages and its position as the lowest price, i.e. most competitive, service provider.”

Last November 2020, we published an article telling that T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) was in 94 hedge fund portfolios. Its all time high statistics is 113. TMUS delivered a 31.71% return in the past 12 months.

Our calculations show that T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) ranks 21st in our list of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds.

The top 10 stocks among hedge funds returned 216% since the end of 2014 and outperformed the S&P 500 Index ETFs by more than 121 percentage points. We know it sounds unbelievable. You have been dismissing our articles about top hedge fund stocks mostly because you were fed biased information by other media outlets about hedge funds’ poor performance. You could have doubled the size of your nest egg by investing in the top hedge fund stocks instead of dumb S&P 500 ETFs. Below you can watch our video about the top 5 hedge fund stocks right now. All of these stocks had positive returns in 2020.

Video: Top 5 Stocks Among Hedge Funds

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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.