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Revenues at global telecommunications companies are set to revive again after years of decline, predicted Morgan Stanley — and that would spell good news for telco stocks.
The investment bank picked out five stocks it rated "overweight" that investors can buy: U.S. telco AT&T, HKT from Hong Kong, Canada's Telus, Brazil's Telefonica Brasil, Cellnex from Spain and Sweden's Tele2. The overweight rating is an indication that the bank expects a stock or index to outperform its peers.
"We think it's time for investors to revisit global telcos ... the stocks look under-owned and undervalued," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a Thursday report.
The bank expects global telco revenue growth to more than double between 2019 and 2021.
Among other drivers of that growth, it highlighted the trend of people consuming more data at an increased pace, causing them to sign up for multiple cellular plans. A wider usage of additional devices — such as smart watches and a second mobile phone for work — is also driving up data usage and subscriber growth, according to the report.
Carriers are also boosting revenues on more premium services, and attracting more users through increasing affordable plans, it said.
The 5G rollout — the next generation of high-speed mobile internet — is also set to drive up stocks of cell tower operators. Telcos need to lease space from these operators in order to install antennas and power wireless networks.
In this sector, Morgan Stanley recommended Chinese cell tower companies, in particular China Tower. The bank said that 5G licences have been awarded to three telcos in the country, and China Tower is set to benefit from that.
Its Hong Kong-listed stock is up over 40%, compared to a year ago.