Time Warner Cable (UNKNOWN:TWC.DL) management notified investors during their 2013 year-end earnings release that the company would need to spend as much as $3.8 billion a year over the next three years to continue with its plans for expansion. In the most recent quarter reported, investors learned that capital expenditures through the first half of the year were at about $2.1 billion, nearly 30% more than was spent during the same period the previous year. What is Time Warner doing will all of this money?
In this competitive industry, with the likes of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH)(NASDAQ:DISH) to compete with, customer acquisition is the key to future growth. Providing industry leading technology is the way to get more customers and that's what Time Warner Cable is doing now. With investments in its core technology offerings, as well as new features to make life better for its customers, here's how Time Warner Cable is investing billions of dollars.
Investing in major network advancements
So far this year the company has released various products and services in select markets. One of these is what the company is calling TWC Maxx, a broadband service that provides speeds of up to 300 megabits a second.The company says that this service allows for much greater network reliability and speeds, while creating a "new TV experience."
While the original rollout was just to select markets in L.A. and New York, but was expanded to Austin, and the company plans to add seven more markets in 2015: Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio, and San Diego. This will make the the service available to an estimated 6 million customers by the end of 2015.
TWC CEO Robert Marcus was quoted in July as saying, "We are committed to reinventing the TWC service experience market-by-market. ... These investments mark the beginning of a new generation of broadband and cable services that will transform the customer experience as they know it today."
In line with giving customers greater network availability, speed, and security, in June of this year TWC announced its collaboration with Wi-Fi Hotspot company Boingo to develop and implement PassPoint services. A PassPoint device allows users to easily create a secure, reliable Wi-Fi connection similar to using a cellular device, and allows for a secured, high-speed connection in places like airports. TWC is already offering over 56,000 of these locations, free for TWC customers.
More investment in technology, more subscribers, more revenue
Some 75% of the company's capital expenditures were spent in 2013 on residential services, such as TWC Maxx and other similar services and features. This segment has also been the highest growth segment for the company.
TWC is seeking to use its technology investments to bring in more customers, as well as get more from each customer. Q2 revenues of over $1.6 billion, up 12% year-over-year, were a result not only of Time Warner Cable's 11.415 million residential high-speed data subscribers, but also higher average revenue per user, or ARPU. ARPU in TWC's residential segment increased 9.7% in Q2 year over year.
The biggest investment to come: Merging with Comcast
Time Warner Cable looks like a pretty good option all on its own, especially with the investments the company is making in its network and technology. However, Comcast is also developing leading technologies of its own. The two companies are planning to merge into what together could be a dominating force.
Comcast's X1 video operating system, which integrates mobile apps, voice control, and other features into its video service, is one example of how Comcast is also committed to investing in technological advancements for its customers. Combine the investments of Time Warner Cable and Comcast together, and it looks like the end result will be good for customers, and shareholders.
Time Warner Cable has been able to consistently grow its revenue base and revenue per user in the residential Internet segment. A big part of that has been the company's commitment to advanced technology and network infrastructure for its customers, and recent capital expenditures look to be right on track for more future growth.
The best part of this is that this likely future growth is trading at a relatively low share price now. At a P/E of 19, TWC is well below the industry average P/E of 31. Compare this to Dish Network trading above 27 times earnings. Furthermore, the expected P/E by 2015 year-end for Time Warner Cable is just 16, where as the same expectation is over 30 times for Dish. Finally, Time Warner Cable beats out Dish with higher profit margins, lower debt to equity, and better quarterly earnings growth, making Time Warner Cable look very attractive in this industry, both for current price as well as future growth.