|By Business Wire||
|February 1, 2013 11:04 AM EST||
Fitch Ratings has downgraded the Issuer Default Rating (IDR) for Cogeco Cable Inc. (Cogeco) to 'BB+' from 'BBB-'. The long-term rating for the secured notes are affirmed at 'BBB-'. Fitch has removed Cogeco from Rating Watch Negative.
The Rating Outlook is Stable.
Fitch has downgraded Cogeco's IDR due to the further deterioration in the company's credit profile resulting from closing its more recent debt financed acquisition. Consequently, debt has increased pro forma for the acquisitions to 3.6 times (x) excluding the non-guaranteed debt at Atlantic Broadband (ABB). Cogeco's leverage at the November 2012 closing of the ABB acquisition was 2.7x, an increase from 1.8x. The long-term leverage expectations for Cogeco ratings at the 'BBB-' level was leverage of approximately 2.5x or less. Fitch does not expect Cogeco will reduce leverage back to this range within the next 12-15 months although leverage should reduce going forward due to both cash flow growth and debt repayment but remain above 3x at year-end 2013.
The 'BB+' ratings reflect Cogeco Cable's stable operating profile and the strength of the Canadian operations that generate the majority of the company's revenue and cash flow. Fitch believes that the Canadian operations are well supported by Cogeco Cable's competitive position anchored by its high speed internet and triple play offering. The cable systems are also clustered in less concentrated and generally less competitive suburban regions.
The PEER 1 Network Enterprises Inc. (PEER 1) acquisition offers a diversified faster growing revenue stream although it has some elevated execution risk as Cogeco pursues growth and investment opportunities outside of their traditional cable footprint. PEER 1's core business of managed services and web hosting is highly and increasingly competitive. PEER 1 focuses on delivering quality service and support to differentiate from competition that is mainly from managed and dedicated cloud providers along with local and regional operators. PEER 1 has a relatively large SMB customer base with no customer representing more than 5% of revenues.
Fitch does not expect PEER 1 operations to contribute meaningful free cash flow during the next several years given the higher capital intensity rates and need to further scale the operations. Thus PEER 1 could require additional working capital to support ongoing operations and expansion. LTM EBITDA and capital spending were both approximately CAD40 million.
Cogeco's strategic shift in pursuing its last two acquisitions is a result of the maturing of cable services and the competitive intensity that has lowered growth prospects for the cable operations. The competitive intensity in Canada is expected to increase with additional IPTV footprint expansion through fiber-to-the-home overbuilds in a material portion of Cogeco's regions. This will increase the pressure on primary service unit additions which have been decreasing due to factors mentioned above along with economic uncertainty and the tightening of credit controls. Fitch believes Cogeco also needs to upgrade technology supporting its video offering to better match capabilities with the telco's IPTV video service.
Cogeco should be able to mitigate revenue pressure through rate increases and SMB primary service unit additions which will become an increasingly important offset. In addition, the enterprise services segment provides a growing diversified revenue stream with good margins. Cogeco's capital spending intensity has been elevated relative to its peers due to success-based spending within this segment.
Cogeco used a material portion of its liquidity position to close the ABB acquisition. Cogeco's main sources of liquidity are through its credit facilities, cash position, and free cash flow (FCF). As of Nov. 30, 2012, Cogeco Cable had drawn down CAD584 million on its CAD750 million credit facility due 2017 and had CAD9 million of cash. In connection with the PEER 1 closing, Cogeco entered into new acquisition facilities. This includes a four year CAD250 million secured revolving credit facility and a four year approximately CAD equivalent $400 million secured term loan as a portion of the draw was in US dollars.
Going forward, Fitch expects Cogeco will restore at least a portion of its liquidity position using FCF to pay down the revolver over the next couple of years. Free cash flow (FCF) for the fiscal year 2012 was CAD42 million after dividend payment. Cogeco's current FCF guidance (excluding PEER 1) after dividend payment for FY2013 is in excess of CAD100 million.
Cogeco's conservative financial policies also support its current ratings. The company does not have an active share program. Additionally the most recent dividend increase of 4% is lower than in the past reflecting in part the increased leverage resulting from the acquisition.
Importantly, Fitch believes the new ABB subsidiary should be in a self-funding position. This is supported by ABB's current cash generation, a substantial tax shield related to net operating losses, a competitive environment with limited triple play competition and the expected growth from increasing underpenetrated services. ABB will increase success-based capital spending which should improve its competitive position relative to satellite operators which is the primary competitor in approximately three quarters of its markets.
Negative: Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating include:
--Cogeco Cable leverage stays in the mid 3.5x range reflecting lack of cash flow growth and debt reduction;
--An additional material leveraging transaction;
--Greater than expected IPTV competition in Cogeco Cable territory that adversely affects operating trends;
--Negative operating trends in the Atlantic Broadband operations that requires Cogeco Cable to infuse additional funding;
--Large debt-financed acquisition;
--Reduced free cash flow prospects.
Positive: Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating include:
--Cogeco Cable leverage improves to less than 2.5x due to strong cash growth and debt reduction;
--Good operating trends across its three business segments;
--Pre-dividend FCF to sales of greater than 10%;
--Financial policy to maintain leverage below 2.5x.
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been compensated for the provision of the ratings.
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
--'Corporate Rating Methodology' (Aug. 8, 2012);
--'Rating Telecom Companies: Sector Credit Factors' (Aug. 9, 2012).
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Corporate Rating Methodology
Rating Telecom Companies
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,090
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,407
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,383
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,295
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,184
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,093
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,043
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 26, 2014 11:30 PM EST Reads: 1,089
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 26, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,100
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 26, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,093
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 26, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,136
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,534
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,347
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,662
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,556
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,689
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,715
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 23, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,871
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,821
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 23, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,856