Motley Fool  Apr 12  Comment 
JPMorgan grows less enthused about the Brazilian telecom giant.
Reuters  Apr 5  Comment 
Telefonica's O2 won the biggest chunk of new British mobile airwaves in an auction that raised 1.36 billion pounds($1.9 billion) for the government, regulator Ofcom said.
TechCrunch  Feb 26  Comment 
 Carriers have kicked off the world’s biggest mobile phone tradeshow with calls for an “investment friendly framework” to fund rollouts of next-gen 5G network technology and level the playing field with Internet giants. “We need a new...
Reuters  Feb 26  Comment 
Spanish mobile operator Telefonica on Sunday launched a voice-activated assistant, called 'Aura', in six countries, using artificial intelligence to interact with its customers.


Telefonica, based in Madrid, Spain, is the third largest mobile telephone company in the world by customer accesses, with 182 million[1] subscriber lines to its services, and has coverage in Europe and thirteen Latin American countries. In addition, the company offers broadband internet access and television service. [2]

Telefonica faces increasing obstacles to growth in Spain, long considered its dominant market. Spain has a wireless penetration rate of 111%, which is the number of wireless subscriptions divided by population.[3] In addition, Telefonica has faced increasing competition as a result of France Telecom S.A. (FTE) acquiring Deutsche Telekom AG (DT)'s internet business, as well as the largest Spanish cable TV operator pushing its own internet and phone services. [1].

The company has rights to provide coverage for the IPhone in 16 countries, which have contributed to sales growth and offset decreases in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), since iPhone contracts typically have 30% higher ARPU than other phones. [3]

Business Overview

Telefonica places a large emphasis on innovation and research and development. The company has launched Open Movilforum, an open source platform that allows developers to access services on Telefonica's network and incorporate them into their applications, which management hopes will lower churn by keeping customers from switching to other carriers.[4] The company has invested in Amobee, a mobile advertising solutions business; GestureTek, a user recognition and interface innovator; and Kyte, a multimedia social networking business. [5]

Business & Financial Metrics[6]

In 2009, TEF incurred a net loss of $3.3 billion on total revenues of $56.7 billion. This represents an 18.2% increase in net loss on a 2.1 decrease in revenues from 2008, when the company lost $2.8 billion on revenues of $57.9 billion.


Business Segments[8]

Telefonica has a regional, integrated management model organized around three geographic areas, with each area in charge of the business with its borders.

  • Telefonica Espana (34.7% of revenue): From its inception in Spain in 1924 to today, Telefonica receives the largest share of its business in Spain. This segment also includes mobile services in Morocco.
  • Telefonica Latinoamerica (40.5% of revenue): Under the names Telefonica and Movistar, this unit provides telecommunications services to thirteen countries in Central and South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The unit also has satellite operations in Puerto Rico and the US. [9]
  • Telefonica O2 Europe (23.8% of revenue): This segment operates in the UK, Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. This unit has a foothold in China and Italy through its partnerships with China Netcom (906-HK) and Telecom Italia S.P.A. (TI).
  • Other (0.9% ): Attento provides customer care services to all of Telefonica's customers. t-gestiona provides administrative and administrative support services to the regional business units. Telefonica I+D is the company's research and development subsidiary. [9]


Key Trends & Forces

Increasing competition in Spain

Telefonica historically has been the leading telecommunications company in Spain by customer accesses.[1] However, the wireless penetration rate, which is the total number of wireless subscribers in a country divided by its population, has reached 111% in this country. Such a high penetration rate means the wireless growth outlook is bleak. [3] Competition in Spain has increased as a result of France Telecom S.A. (FTE) acquiring Deutsche Telekom AG (DT)'s internet business and the largest cable TV operator pushing its own internet and phone services. [1] Overall, Spain's Gross Domestic Product is dropping, in part due to the global economic downturn, and the country has cut roaming tariffs, allowing customers of Telefonica's competitors to more easily use their phones in Spain.

Latin America is the main area of growth

By region, Latin America is the firm's primary growth driver, generating revenues almost matching that from Spain. Privatization of telecommunication in most Latin American countries had lead to rapid growth in mobile and long distance telephone services. [10] Throughout Central and South America, Telefonica is using its commercial strength in the mobile business to grow its fixed-line telephone and broadband business. [1] Telefonica is able to capitalize on countries with poor infrastructure by jumping into new technologies such as 3G data networks, VoIP, and WiMAX, saving the cost of infrastructure upgrades.[10]

iPhone distribution rights in 16 countries

Telefonica started selling iPhones in November 2007 as the exclusive dealer and service provider in the UK.[11] Like AT&T in the United States, the exclusive contract has the potential to drive expansion of Telefonica's wireless customer base. The company announced in June 2008 that it will distribute the iPhone in 12 Latin American countries and the Czech Republic, in addition to the UK, Ireland, and Spain. [12] However, Telefonica only has the exclusive right to provide service for the iPhone in the UK, Ireland, and Spain. [13] [14]

Adverse Regulatory Environment in Europe

As a multinational telecommunications company, Telefonica is subject to strict regulation in many of the countries in which it operates. [15] Regulatory policies in many countries favor increased competition in the fixed line, broadband, and mobile service industries. Because Telefonica holds a high market share in many of the countries in which it operates, it is negatively affected by rules designed to foster competition and antitrust action.


Telefonica is the third largest wireless phone operator in the world behind Vodafone AirTouch Public Limited Company (VOD) and China Mobile (Hong Kong) (CHL).[16] In Latin America, Telefonica competes predominantly with America Movil, S.A.B. de C.V. (AMX) in the mobile phone market.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
  2. TEF 2007 Annual Report, page 3
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. TEF 2007 Annual Report, “Innovation,” page 29
  5. Current Analysis, "Telefonica Invests in Innovation"
  6. TEF 2009 10-K pg. 8  
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 TEF 2007 20-F, Item 4 "Information on the Company," page 15
  8. 8.0 8.1 TEF 2009 10-K pg. F-29  
  9. 9.0 9.1 TEF 2007 Annual Report, page 8
  10. 10.0 10.1 Reuters Latin America - Telecom Market Regulatory Overview & Infrastructure
  11. TEF 2007 Annual Report, “Products and Services,” page 32
  12. DMW Daily, "Telefonica to Sell iPhone in 16 Countries; Much of Latin America"
  13. Wireless Week, "Telefonica to Distribute iPhone to 16 Countries"
  14. Reuters, "UPDATE 1-Telefonica to sell iPhone in Spain this year"
  15. TEF 2007 20-F, Item 3 "Key Information," page 6
  16. Morningstar analyst report, TEF, 20 August 2008
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