After watching the cable sector languish during the first half of this decade, I'm willing to declare 2006, among other things, the year of the cable resurgence. The good thing for shareholders of the few remaining publicly held cable multisystems operators, is that I can't identify a plausible reason that 2007 won't bring more of the same.
Oh, there'll be issues for the industry, all right. For instance, cable costs for consumers once again have risen to the fore and likely could become trumpeted causes with consumer groups or even the new Democrat leadership in the Congress. And the incipient video and triple-play offerings by Verizon
Included in this rogue's gallery were ineluctable competition from satellite providers DirecTV
Now, however, most of those issues have evaporated, and while Charter continues to struggle after wowing analysts and investors alike with cooked numbers in the first couple of years after its formation, the others are doing nicely, thank you very much. In 2007, investors are likely to gain one pure cable play and lose another. Shares in Time Warner Cable could become public entities as soon as the first week of the year, since Adelphia is using a 16% interest in the company to pay its creditors. Once the underlying shares are distributed, Time Warner is likely to register them, thereby circumventing the typical IPO process. Not long thereafter, Cablevision probably will be acquired by its controlling Dolan family, thereby following Cox Communications and Insight Communications into the world of formerly public MSOs.
For the next year, I wouldn't anticipate draconian changes for the cable operators. These companies don't make sweeping changes, preferring to move slowly and deliberately. That's yet another -- and maybe the biggest -- reason that it took until 2006 for the market to warm to them. But Comcast, for instance, is just completing its first year as a triple play provider on a widespread basis. That's not a bad foundation to build upon in 2007.
If you Fools are like me, other than keeping up with the myriad of passwords in my life, one of my harder tasks is to review my portfolio at year end and to make sensible and appropriate changes in it. But as we complete 2006, I see little that I believe can derail cable in 2007, and so I'd urge my Foolish friends to carefully consider initiating or adding to positions in Comcast and Mediacom and to watch carefully for the birth of a publicly traded Time Warner Cable.
For related Foolishness:
- Fool on the Street: Comcast's Triple Play
- Comcast: A Rediscovered Highflier
- Time Warner's Got Happy Feet
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