RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — This could be a very interesting day on Wall Street for the stock of five public firms from the Carolinas and Georgia.
First, BellSouth (NYSE: BLS; closed Tuesday at $25.77).
The regional Bell operating company disclosed after the markets closed on Tuesday a potentially huge deal with DIRECTV to package telecommunications and digital satellite services. The move obviously is designed to counter the onslaught of cable companies, such as Time Warner, on the high-speed Internet services and telephone sectors.
For years, futurists and analysts have predicted that consumers want to pay one bill for all their communications needs and the company that delivers the right package will be a big winner. Telephony via cable coupled with cable provided Internet is a powerful combination. Cable Internet already exceeds the telephone companies’ best counter offer, DSL (digital subscriber line) by a wide margin. Add to it the advantages of digital cable, on demand programming and telephony and, boom, the RBOCs face even more competition.
By working with DIRECTV, BellSouth counters the one-bill, one-communications package. The new partners also say they will package services at a discount.
One feature BellSouth can offer that the cable companies can’t is its wireless service through Cingular.
The package also could be a boost to DIRECTV, which gets access to BellSouth’s nine-state market area. There’s certainly no love lost between landline cable firms and the satellite services. If this deal produces more competition, better services and better prices, consumers will benefit.
The companies also said they plan to explore further product integration. Said Bill Smith, chief product development and technology officer at BellSouth: “We are not talking about a short term fix. We are looking to a long-term business relationship with DIRECTV.”
Nortel gets deal in China
China Netcom announced this morning that it has selected Nortel to provide a new network of services in the cities of Qingdao, Jinan and Tai’an. The deal calls for integrated voice, data, video and multimedia services.
Nortel stock (NYSE: NT) opens at $3.13.
EarthLink prepares to sue
In the ever-intensifying war against spam, EarthLink plans to file suite against a group of alleged spammers known as the Alabama Gang, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The paper says the suit, seeking $5 million in damages, will be filed today, the paper says.
EarthLink has sued other spammers and says this group has used its network to dump more than 250 million unwanted messages on customers.
Quintiles goes after $450 million
Quintiles founder Dennis Gillings is going to the bank for more money to finance his taking private move of Quintiles. The company said Tuesday evening that it wanted to raise $450 million in notes.
The Street already has expressed reservations about the debt Gillings and his group is piling up in acquiring the company. Quintiles (Nasdaq: QTRN) opens today at $14.93.
ISS fights back
Meanwhile, an analyst downgrade created an 8 percent hit Tuesday on Internet Security Systems stock. But the CEO of the Atlanta-based firm didn’t take the negative talk lightly. See the story and his heated response from The Street at:
Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.