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Windstream: A Strong Stock for Long-Term Investors

April 20, 2012 | About:
Windstream (NASDAQ:WIN) announced this week at the COMPTEL PLUS conference the release of a new service called Carrier Switched Ethernet. The start-up of this service will allow current wholesale carriers access to the longstanding Windstream ILEC footprint. This is a huge opportunity reaching all Ethernet providers with a means to maximize revenues.

Windstream’s intention with its new service is to help meet the increasing demand for higher bandwidth and Ethernet access. Such access will make it more cost-effective for current carrier customers to have a stronger presence in the cloud computing, IP-based services and metro fiber markets.

Windstream which has been offering technology innovation and solutions for the communications industry for many years also increased its ILEC footprint this last year with the acquisition of Paetec. This brings Windstream’s nationwide network to 100,000 miles of fiber — up from 60,000 miles of fiber. Also Paetec is already established in 86 of the top 100 metropolitan areas of the U.S.; another big win for Windstream’s U.S. business communications presence.

This new offering will allow wholesale carriers to gain access to the Ethernet via Windstream’s ILEC network of over 980 exchanges and interconnect ports of 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps available speeds, and end user loops of 3 Mbps to 1 Gbps. As I see it the Carrier Switched Ethernet solution is going to give some much needed competition to the "big boys" of the industry this next year.

The Big Boys

When I search for Windstream competitors, the three big boys of the communications industry are listed: AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint-Nextel (NYSE:S) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ). I find it interesting that when I search for competitors for each of the Big Boys, nowhere does Windstream crop up.

Windstream does not have the market capitalization of AT&T or Verizon, and is just slightly behind Sprint by $1 billion. Windstream’s revenue can barely lift its head above water compare to the other three. But wait; let’s take a look at quarterly revenue growth. While the big three are in single-digit percentages for growth, Windsteam shows double-digit growth — three times what Verizon reports and ten times AT&T. This says to me Windstream is still flying under the radar for right now but should be considered a real player in the game.

I have been a Verizon user for many years. I was one of the first to own what we called the "brick," also known as a cell phone. I was also one of the first users of the Internet. So my experience with one of the big boys is a long one but I must say in the last few years — I can only speak personally about Verizon but have heard complaints the others are showing signs of decline also — I feel like the slowing of speed due to daytime spikes in usage, the dropping of calls and loss of broadband connection has increased over the last several years — to my constant infuriation. Could it be that Windstream is trying to combat this situation with its new wholesale service Carrier Switched Ethernet and force the big boys to wake up and take notice that their frilly petticoat slip is showing.

A Fun Side

Windstream is stepping up to the plate with peripheral services the other big boys are not so inclined to offer. Known for its phone and TV services primarily to consumers in rural areas, Windstream launched in March 2012 the “On The Mark” web entertainment program propelling it into the entertainment business as well. Windstream is taking advantage of how predominate the web has become in people’s lives by launching “Merge,” a new high-speed Internet and streaming entertainment service. Consumers can even customize their entertainment choices by directly interacting with home television. If you are a YouTube fan and lover you can peruse a portion of the Merge broadcast advertising campaign that Windstream has made accessible via YouTube.

Not to leave out the social media connection, Windstream is introducing “Merge Me” exclusively on Facebook. Here the consumer can experience interactivity with “On The Mark” showings.

My overall take on Windstream is that its evocative approach to the communications industry is not so entrenched as the big boys and is willing to move around a bit, testing and pursuing different avenues of revenue generating styles by not sticking to just the background scenario of the Ethernet and wholesale carrier sales. In fact, Windstream is taking a rather novel approach by entering the entertainment business. Might this just be the area of business to skyrocket Windstream to greater heights and grandeur glory of profits, taking it out of direct competition with the big boys and spinning off into a new frontier? I like Windstream’s gumption and forward-looking approach. I suspect this delving into the entertainment business and linking it back to its Ethernet could pay off nicely.

Show of Confidence

As a show of confidence in its holdings, and to give better customer support nationwide, Windstream just announced the opening of a new data center in Little Rock, Ark. The center is intended to give further support to a growing customer base and show of commitment to meeting the growing demand for cloud-based and dedicated managed services that Windstream is most notable known. At 30,000 square feet, a 2N power distribution and parallel uninterruptible power supply (UPS); the data center marks Windstream assurances that access to its servers, applications and data are available 24/7.

Windstream is changing the way people think and I suspect this just might pay off in the long run. I like its progressive style not just into the entertainment industry but the opening up of its ILEC network footprint. This is a company well worth keeping an eye on.

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