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Vonage, a VT2142 and a RTP300, My Experiences - A Detailed Review
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Cable Leads The Election Rally Of 2004


Vonage In Print News

Cable Leads The Election Rally Of 2004

November 21, 2004

By Paul Kagan

Pundits are still second-guessing the TV networks for calling a possible John Kerry victory based on the early exit polls in the Nov. 2 election. But they could have saved time, money and face simply by checking the stock market averages on CNBC. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ all started rising together Oct. 26, exactly one week before thousands of lawyers were sent to the polls to guard against skulduggery. (Now there's an oxymoron.) The vote that reelected George W. Bush was just as close as the forecasts: It was a tie except in Ohio. But it's as if Wall Street guessed, on that turnaround Tuesday, that Osama bin Laden was going to broadcast to the world the next Saturday (Oct. 30). His tape on the Al-Jazeera network may have been the prod to knock swing voters off the fence. And it surely boosted the Bush turnout in the most well-attended election ever. But many more currents flowed through this contest.

Those same exit polls indicated that Republicans were voting on issues of culture (religion and homosexuality) and terror (war), while Democrats came out for jobs and the economy. On that basis, you'd think investors would be donkeys, not elephants. But I believe it was their own religion that motivated them Nov. 2: They worship low taxes. No one exiting a voting booth will say, "I voted for my pocketbook."

Sounds crass. But behind the curtains more than half the electorate connected the dots for the man who gave them cash tax credits, lower cap gains taxes, lower inheritance taxes and record low mortgage interest rates. With house prices at record highs, home owners couldn't say they were worse off than four years before. History books will say the election victory was driven by Swift Boat commercials, rallying around the flag, flip-flop accusations and opposition to gay marriage. But George W. Bush is the first president to gain a second term amid a jobs recession. He turned that negative around by outdoing Congress: He didn't just award contracts to precincts, he got the pork directly to the people.

So, where was cable in all this? Surprise: It led the Election Rally of 2004. The Kagan MSO Average hit its pre-election low point (to be later known as Kerry's Bottom) July 30, two weeks before the Aug. 13 nadir of Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ. By Nov. 5, the Friday after the election, MSOs and NASDAQ were 16% above their summer lows, S&P was +10% and the Dow was +6%. New York Stock Exchange volume Nov. 4 and 5 totaled 3.6 billion shares. That's the stuff of which bull markets are made, and it wiped out the cumulative losses the market incurred since last February's peak.

On Nov. 5, the Dow Jones Avg., at 10,387, was up 38% since the bear market low of Oct. 9, 2002.

Meanwhile, cable stocks had nearly doubled at +93%.

So much for the national rites of passage. Within media, some were stunned by the megabucks of political ads--$1.6 billion according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.--that flowed to local TV stations nationally (the bulk of them to the swing states). Others turned back to more parochial matters, like the intensifying competition for the budget of the media customer.

One reason MSO stocks went up: Reports of higher satellite sub churn and thus higher sub acquisition cost. Coupled with reports of record high interest in cable high-speed data, the pall that had smothered MSO stock prices for the last six months was lifted.

There was also an urban legend making the rounds, about a telco swimming upstream against the media tide.

Bernstein research analyst Tom Wolzien discovered that Verizon in New York, in an attempt to jump-start Voip (dubbed VoiceWing), bundled it with DSL for an extra $29.95. But it also requires subs to order a landline with it, which is like saying you can switch to IP as long as you don't switch. The sales rep admitted it wasn't a very good idea, according to Wolzien, and pitched a $34.95 stand-alone Voip service to piggyback on the cable modem, $10 more than the price Vonage charges. Verizon apparently stumbled over a plan to offer what Wolzien dubs "naked DSL," high-speed access unbundled from a telephone line. It would be ironic if, in an attempt to be a bundle competitor, telcos unbundle at the start.



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

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