Wireless Communications: How to Invest in the Spectrum Wars

In this day and age, wireless devices have become the norm, and companies are in an aggressive race to control the airwave spectrum that provides video and other data services to customers.

Meet the contenders
The company favored to win the race for airwaves appears to be Verizon (NYS: VZ) , who has taken on an "especially aggressive strategy" for taking over the spectrum. If approved by the FCC, two deals can bring in over 275 million new wireless customers and revenue streams.

Verizon hopes to buy radio spectrum from Cox Communications, a $315 million investment that could return 28 million potential customers throughout Boston, New Orleans, Jacksonville (FL), Phoenix, San Diego, and Las Vegas. 

If the FCC approves the deal, it will help put Verizon well ahead of its competitors Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) and AT&T (NYS: T) . Because the scarce spectrum space cannot be duplicated, Verizon could theoretically out-serve competitors in some regions.

Verizon is also spending $3.6 billion (pending FCC approval) to obtain airwaves from SpectrumCo, which houses major cable companies including Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks.

Verizon's acquisition of the airwaves will be especially impacting to the industry now that AT&T has canceled its massive T-Mobile takeover. Had the deal gone through, AT&T would have overtaken Verizon as the industry leader.

Investing ideas
Wireless communication is expected to be a massive growth industry for years to come, but which companies are expected to gain the most from this trend?

For ideas, we collected data on institutional money flows, and identified seven wireless communication stocks that have seen significant institutional buying during the current quarter.

Big money managers have extensive resources to analyze investing ideas. So if they're buying a certain stock, it's worth paying close attention.

Do you agree with their bullish sentiment? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted alphabetically by ticker. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. NTT DOCOMO (NYS: DCM) : Provides wireless telecommunications services, packet communications services, and satellite mobile communications services in Japan. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 1.7M shares, which represents about 22.31% of the company's float of 7.62M shares.

2. InterDigital (NAS: IDCC) : Engages in the design and development of digital wireless technology solutions. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 4.3M shares, which represents about 10.24% of the company's float of 41.99M shares.

3. Leap Wireless International (NAS: LEAP) : Provides digital wireless services under the "Cricket" brand name in the United States. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.7M shares, which represents about 5.53% of the company's float of 48.80M shares.

4. SK Telecom Co. (NYS: SKM) : Provides wireless telecommunications services using code division multiple access (CDMA) and wide-band CDMA technologies. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 89.2M shares, which represents about 24.78% of the company's float of 360.01M shares.

5. Telephone & Data Systems (NYS: TDS) : Provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 3.9M shares, which represents about 4.86% of the company's float of 80.27M shares.

6. TIM Participacoes (NYS: TSU) : Provides mobile telecommunications services through global system mobile (GSM) technology to business and individual customers in Brazil. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 11.1M shares, which represents about 10.% of the company's float of 110.95M shares.

7. VimpelCom (NYS: VIP) : Operates as an integrated telecommunications services provider, offering voice and data services through a range of wireless, fixed, and broadband technologies. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 19.0M shares, which represents about 6.64% of the company's float of 286.26M shares.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA. Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Rebecca Lipman do not own any of the shares mentioned above. Institutional data sourced from Fidelity.

At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of InterDigital. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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