Because hysterically ridiculous growth may slow slightly...
Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett has become an easy quote machine for telecommunications journalists looking for tasty sound bites, his name popping up about fifty times a week
across various outlets. Occasionally, Moffett can single-handedly send company stocks tumbling, like he did recently when he argued that AT&T and Verizon wouldn't handle the recession well
. Of course as a stock jock he's looking at things with an eye for immediate returns, so he's been particularly hard on Verizon FiOS, and network upgrades in general
. Interestingly, Verizon's investment in FiOS is one of the things helping them weather the recession, which is ironic, in a Craig Moffett kind of way.
Today Moffett directed his analytical telecom acumen on the immensely profitable wireless industry, whose primary players continue to add millions of subscribers per quarter. Driven by the huge profit margins from MMS/SMS services that cost virtually nothing to provide
, wireless service may be one of the most explosive and profitable markets in the country, despite a recession, and even for the smaller pre-paid carriers. Yet according to a Moffett research note to investors today, the wireless industry is collapsing
"This industry is collapsing," Mr. Moffett said in an interview. "The whole wireless business is grinding to a halt." "There is much more at stake than simply subscriber forecasts," he writes. "If some or all of the wireless companies fall short of their 2009 growth projections — as we expect - then there is a much higher risk that one or more will resort to aggressive price action."
Moffett's concern is that the wireless industry is saturated, which could result in carriers possibly
having to actually compete on price -- which while disastrous for Moffett, would probably be great for you. His assumption is based on the idea that wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless actually compete on price, though as in the broadband industry, that isn't always necessary due to their size, power, political influence and ability to buy
competitive "trouble makers."
Regardless, something tells me that based on SMS/MMS profit margins alone, both Moffett's clients and the carriers will pull through ok -- even if they have to match the new unlimited offers
being unveiled by pre-paid carriers like MetroPCS or Boost Mobile. Adoption in smart phones
is surging, so while the multi-million subscriber additions may slow, the growth in wireless data revenues (particularly thanks to caps and overages
So yeah, other than the fact that carriers are healthy, profits are absolutely mind-numbingly epic, and wireless broadband revenues are set to explode because of a flood of new 3G/4G connected devices? Sure, the wireless industry is collapsing.