The only reason I can think of to set foot near a mall today is to research retailers, but rather than deal with the herd of people stampeding from deal to deal, I'm going to spend the day catching up with some companies that I own. First out of the gate is NTT DoCoMo
NTT DoCoMo, which is majority owned by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
DoCoMo and KDDI continue to alternate as the leaders in adding new customers to their networks with each claiming between 40% and 50% of new subscribers each month. The remaining 10% of new subscribers are claimed by Softbank, which purchased Vodafone's
Growing the business at DoCoMo is no longer as simple as adding new subscribers to the network and watching the cash roll in. A mature market coupled with competition from au (owned by KDDI) and Softbank has created a challenging environment for growth. To spur growth the company is rolling out a number of new features including more international plans and services, downloadable music service partnered with Napster and Tower Records (brands that have more strength in Japan than here) that runs about $17.20 a month for unlimited usage, and the ability to use a mobile phone as a credit card or e-wallet (Osaifu keitai). Making the credit card portion of the business viable requires building out a large network. In some ways it is a "build it and hope they come" proposition. The company continues to add vendors and various service provides to its network and now offers compatibility with Visa as well.
Ultimately, I find DoCoMo attractive, because of the lack of appreciation the market has for the cash flow the business generates. Number portability is causing already heated competition with KDDI and Softbank to get hotter, but I believe the expanded services DoCoMo offers will ultimately allow it to hold onto its current level of cash flows, making the stock a bargain. And if one of the company's ancillary services, such as music downloads or e-wallet transactions, begins to take off, then the shares will likely take off as well.
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At the time of publication Nathan Parmelee owned shares in NTT DoCoMo, but had no financial interest in any of the other companies mentioned. Vodafone is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.