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Windstream Unveils Enterprise & Wholesale Focused Brands

Zacks

Windstream Holdings WIN is launching a couple of brands for its enterprise and wholesale businesses — Windstream Enterprise and Windstream Wholesale — ahead of its quarterly earnings release.

Based in Arkansas, the company is a leading rural local exchange carrier in the United States. It is scheduled to report fourth-quarter 2017 results on Feb 22, before the market opens.

With the new brands, the company aims to focus on four aspects – providing cloud connectivity, elevating customer experience, enabling employee collaboration and enhancing security and compliance. Notably, the company is seeking diversification from legacy telecom services to more business, enterprise, and wholesale opportunities.

To meet this end, Windstream has made a significant financial investment to upgrade the company’s network and product portfolio, including significant advances in software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) capabilities and a new Cloud Core architecture.


Additionally, the acquisitions of EarthLink and Broadview have also played a major role in boosting the company’s SD-WAN and cloud suite. While the EarthLink purchase helped Windstream advance into the SD-WAN space with a readymade product, the Broadview deal empowered Windstream with a wider set of UCaaS (Unified communications as a service) cloud capabilities. The services of EarthLink and Broadview Networks are now fully integrated into the cloud core architecture and the new brand strategy.

Windstream has also has inked a deal to acquire privately-held, New York-based competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) — MassComm, Inc. The proposed acquisition of MassComm may not be as important as that of EarthLink or Broadview. But it is likely to expand Windstream’s managed services customer base, fiber-based network and make the market for medium-sized business more competitive.

The company is trying to reduce dependency on consumer-based revenues and become a business and broadband-focused company while serving mainly rural consumers.

Our View

We believe Windstream is realigning its wireless network toward a software-centric model to meet increasing business demands and customer needs. The company is transforming its product portfolio and network in an attempt to enhance customer experience.

Windstream did not reveal the contribution of SD-WAN to its total revenues. However, in December 2017, it announced 500 mid-sized enterprise market customers for SD-WAN. The service provider claimed that customers from different sectors like regional banking, healthcare, retail and manufacturing purchased its SD-WAN service.

Notably, in third-quarter 2017, total Enterprise segment revenues were $567 million, up 12% year over year. Of the total, Service revenues were $554.4 million, up 12%. Product sales were $12.6 million, down 5%. Total profit for the segment was $106 million, up 17% year over year.

We expect Windstream’s SD-WAN opportunities to drive its top line and subscriber statistics in 2018.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Windstream carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Windstream did not perform well in the past three months. The stock price has declined 28.6%, underperforming the industry’s gain of 4.5% in the said time frame.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader Computer and Technology sector are Verizon Communications VZ, T-Mobile US TMUS and Intel Corporation INTC, all carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

The projected earnings growth rates (3-5 years) for Verizon, T-Mobile US and Intel are 5.41%, 25.7% and 8.42%, respectively.

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