Which Telecom Equipment Vendor Will Gain the Most From Enterprise & Government Infrastructure Investments?

Investors of Aruba Networks, Ruckus Wireless, and Ubiquiti Networks are all excited about the prospects for large investments in Wi-Fi, but which company has the most to gain?

Jun 26, 2014 at 1:00PM

Aruba Networks (NASDAQ:ARUN), Ruckus Wireless (NYSE:RKUS), and Ubiquiti Networks (NASDAQ:UBNT) all traded higher on Monday behind Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, and Senate-related news that could bode well for each company. However, given the news that created these gains, are any of these stocks still a buy?

What's going on?
The FCC disclosed a plan to invest $2 billion over the next two years to bring Wi-Fi to classrooms and public libraries. This would provide Wi-Fi to 94% and 98% of U.S. classrooms and public libraries, respectively.

This news was amplified by two U.S. senators who presented a bill that would allocate a large amount of spectrum for commercial use. In other words, this spectrum would make workplace and public Wi-Fi faster with fewer disruptions.

Schools and libraries, combined with enterprise Wi-Fi, are two areas where development is lagging, which likely explains the sudden emphasis.

Which companies may benefit?
Aruba Networks, Ruckus Wireless, and Ubiquiti Networks are all, to some degree, enterprise or telecom equipment vendors that are highly connected to Wi-Fi infrastructure. Therefore, with large buildouts anticipated, the assumption is that each company will benefit.

Aruba's stock traded higher by more than 2% on the above news. The company provides access management for its customers and builds network infrastructure in the enterprise space. The company provides these services for small businesses, educational institutions, and government entities. Hence, this news is right up Aruba's alley.

Ruckus is the second-most installed Wi-Fi brand in North America, and soared more than 4% on the news due to heavy exposure to all of the affected markets. Unlike Aruba, Ruckus is highly dependent on telecom carriers for its business, and generates nearly 95% of its revenue from hardware versus software products.

Ubiquiti is a company like Ruckus and Aruba, but it also sells Wi-Fi systems with a virtual management controller. Shares increased nearly 4% on Monday, and the company's growth has been impressive in prior quarters, but saw a setback in its most recent quarter when overall revenue increased by only 1% quarter over quarter.

Which company benefits the most?
With all things considered, each of these companies will benefit from a boost in enterprise and government Wi-Fi infrastructure. All three companies are growing at an impressive rate. However, Ruckus' 31% revenue growth during its last quarter is not nearly as impressive as Ubiquiti's performance, nor is its 0.25% operating margin or 32 times forward earnings multiple.

Albeit, Ubiquiti's biggest problem, as it relates to this specific topic, is that too much of its business comes from other markets. Specifically, Ubiquiti created less than 20% of its revenue from North America. Meanwhile, Aruba is a U.S. company whose operations revolve around government and education-based entities.

This fact gives Aruba a natural edge, or at least a competitive advantage, relative to its peers. The company grew nearly 30% in its last quarter and trades at a rather attractive 16.5 times forward earnings. Not to mention, Aruba already has partnerships with top telecom equipment vendors, further adding to the notion that it could be the company to benefit most from bullish Wi-Fi network investments.

This means the stock could soar even higher if these announcements become fundamental realities. Aruba generates annual revenue of just $680 million, meaning large infrastructure investments could greatly affect its growth.

Foolish thoughts
If the FCC actually spends $2 billion over the next two years on Wi-Fi for schools and libraries, and if more spectrum is allocated for commercial use, then each of these three companies will benefit, to some degree. But, for Aruba, the impact could be more noticeable, seeing how these plans are its core businesses. Hence, such developments could be catalysts for Aruba, while only speculative as they relate to its peers.

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Brian Nichols has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ruckus Wireless and Ubiquiti Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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