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Charter Communications downgraded amid growth concerns

Published 02/05/2024, 06:03 AM
Updated 02/05/2024, 07:13 AM
© Reuters.

On Monday, Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) faced downgrades by analysts from two financial institutions, citing increased competition and risks affecting the company's future performance. Wells Fargo shifted its rating from Overweight to Equal Weight, significantly reducing the price target to $340 from $460. The adjustment by Wells Fargo reflects concerns over the competitive landscape and the potential impact on the company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

The Wells Fargo analyst noted the challenges ahead for Charter Communications, including competition and risks associated with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) that are expected to diminish and cloud forecasts. They highlighted that without EBITDA acceleration, the company's multiple would not expand. The analyst also pointed out that it will be approximately two years before the company sees a decline in capital intensity, which is considerable time given the competitive environment. Consequently, the firm's valuation multiple has been decreased from 7.5x to 6.7x EV/EBITDA, and the price target has been adjusted downward.

Similarly, JPMorgan changed its stance on Charter Communications, downgrading the stock from Overweight to Neutral and setting a new price target of $370, down from $445. The JPMorgan analyst attributed the downgrade to several factors, including weaker broadband subscriber trends expected to persist through 2025, slower EBITDA growth, rising capital expenditures, and uncertainties around the ACP program. The analyst expressed surprise at the significant slowdown in subscriber momentum in the fourth quarter of 2023, especially compared to competitors, and pointed to increased availability of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and aggressive promotions as contributing factors.

JPMorgan's revised forecast anticipates a net loss of 100,000 broadband subscribers in 2024, contrasting with a previous estimate of a 150,000 subscriber increase. The firm's 2024 EBITDA projection has been lowered to $22.40B, a 2% decrease from the prior estimate of $22.79B. This reflects anticipated lower revenue due to a decrease in subscribers and average revenue per user (ARPU), as well as increased costs related to programming, sales, marketing, and other expenses. Additionally, JPMorgan has increased its capital expenditure estimates for 2024 and 2025 to $12.30B and $12.25B, respectively, following updated guidance from Charter Communications that extends the network evolution build to 2026. These changes have led to a revised free cash flow estimate of $2.89B for 2024. The new price target of $370 implies a valuation of 7.2 times the estimated 2025 EBITDA and 17.0 times the estimated 2025 fully-taxed free cash flow per share.

InvestingPro Insights

Amidst the analyst downgrades and competitive challenges faced by Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), InvestingPro data and insights provide a deeper look into the company's current financial standing and market sentiment. The company's market capitalization stands at a robust $53.03 billion, with a trailing P/E ratio over the last twelve months as of Q4 2023 at 10.36, indicating a potentially undervalued stock compared to its earnings. Despite a modest revenue growth of 1.08% over the last twelve months, the company has maintained a strong gross profit margin of 38.83%, reflecting its ability to manage costs effectively.

InvestingPro Tips highlight management's aggressive share buybacks and the fact that the stock is currently trading near its 52-week low, which could attract investors looking for potential value plays. The tips also point out that the stock's Relative Strength Index (RSI) suggests it is in oversold territory, indicating that the recent sell-off may have been overdone and could present a buying opportunity for contrarian investors.

For readers interested in a more comprehensive analysis, InvestingPro offers additional insights, including the fact that Charter Communications is a prominent player in the media industry and is predicted by analysts to be profitable this year. It's also noteworthy that the company has been profitable over the last twelve months, despite not paying dividends to shareholders.

Investors can further explore these metrics and tips by subscribing to InvestingPro, which is currently on a New Year sale with discounts of up to 50%. Moreover, using the coupon code SFY24 will get you an additional 10% off a 2-year InvestingPro+ subscription, or SFY241 for an additional 10% off a 1-year subscription. With a total of 12 additional InvestingPro Tips available, subscribers can gain a more nuanced understanding of Charter Communications' financial health and market position.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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