Static for Deutsche Telekom

Nature abhors a vacuum -- and Wall Street feels pretty much the same way about uncertainty. That's something Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT  ) provides in spades. Will it survive unbundling in Europe? Can it afford upgrades in the U.S.? Can it continue to pay dividends while telling some of its workers they have to cut back?

But you know what? That's fine with me. Uncertainty can certainly lead to value, and I think that's the case here. No, Deutsche Telekom is not in perfect shape. And yes, it'll have to spend cash on new gear. But I think the market has already more than accounted for all of that.

By the same token, let's not confuse this with a hard-charging growth story. Revenue was up just about 4% this quarter, as mobile contributed more than12% revenue growth. Broadband/fixed was down more than 6%, and business fell more than 3%. The U.S. contributed a huge majority of the growth, which may gall Euro-patriots.

Operationally, the picture was also mixed. Adjusted profits were down a bit, while adjusted EBITDA was up a little less than 3%. Here, too, it's all about mobile -- wireless EBITDA was up 8%, while broadband/fixed dropped almost 7%.

The company faces competition at home and a seemingly relentless shift from wirelines to wireless. What's more, DT joined Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) in cutting roaming charges. And don't forget that DT will be writing some fat checks for new infrastructure in the United States -- if it doesn't, competitors like Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and Sprint (NYSE: S  ) will feast on its market share.

But DT isn't helpless, either. T-Mobile is growing quite nicely, and the company has the financial wherewithal to pay for the new equipment. What's more, new ventures like IPTV (partnered with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) ) could add a little growth -- or at least help to maintain the status quo.

If I didn't already have a fair-sized chunk of my portfolio in international telecom, I'd be seriously considering these shares right now. Heck, I'm still kind of considering them. And while next-door neighbor France Telecom (NYSE: FTE  ) has some appeal, I think patient Fools might be able to make some long-term money on DT if they can tune out today's static.

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Fool contributorStephen Simpsonhas no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).


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