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We reiterate our long-term Neutral recommendation on Virgin Media Inc. (VMED). The company reported strong financial results for the fourth quarter of 2011, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimates. In the previous quarter, average monthly churn rate was 1.3%, remaining the same year over year.
In January 2012, Virgin Media initiated a major network upgrade program. Through this program the 10 Mbps tier will be upgraded to 20 Mbps. Existing 20 Mbps and 30 Mbps tiers will be upgraded to 60 Mbps, 50 Mbps tier to 100 Mbps, and the 100 Mbps tier to 120 Mbps. The network upgrade program will be completed by mid-2013. Management has also decided to take part in the upcoming spectrum auction for 4G LTE frequencies, which is expected to be conducted by the UK government by late 2012.
From December 2010, Virgin Media started offering a next-generation web TV platform to its subscribers. Virgin Media is utilizing TiVo Inc.’s (TIVO - Analyst Report) industry leading set-top boxes for this innovative offering. In a nutshell, Virgin Media’s new product integrates the Internet and live TV on one screen through fiber-optic cable. Further, Virgin Media and TiVo have jointly made major software updates for their TV platform.
The TiVo companion application will enable Virgin Media customers to use their Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) developed iPADs to interact directly with their TiVo service while extending their viewing experience beyond the remote control. Virgin Media is negotiating with video streaming service providers, such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX - Analyst Report) and Amazon.com’s (AMZN - Analyst Report) Lovefilm to add shows and movies to its TiVo DVR boxes.
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