Quebecor Could Totally Disrupt the Big 3 Canadian Telecom Stocks

Quebecor stock can put up a fight against the Big Three Canadian telecoms, but not in the way you’d think!

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The dominance of the Big Three Canadian telecom stocks is quite notable. BCE (TSX:BCE), Telus (TSX:T), and Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) are indeed powerful forces.

The Big Three have been very profitable for longer-term investors, as their shares have continued to pay out impressive, growing dividends over time. A good amount of capital gains has been rewarded over the last 10 years. Though such gains have been harder to come by lately amid macro headwinds and rate-related concerns.

Undoubtedly, federal regulators and Canadian wireless users want to see a big fourth player in the scene. Such a fourth player could drive down prices and provide better prices for users. Of course, we’ve seen Shaw Communications attempt to take on the Big Three with its Freedom Mobile business. Freedom has had limited success, given how difficult it can be to keep up as the tides shift toward new telecom tech.

Undoubtedly, 5G infrastructure does not come cheap. With interest rates on the rise, the costs of borrowing to build out one’s network have gone up. And they could continue to rise if the Bank of Canada continues its hikes in a bid to drag inflation back to manageable levels (think the 2-3% range or so).

Can Quebecor take on the Big Three?

With the Quebec-based telecom looking to go national, I wouldn’t rule out a scenario where the firm “disrupts” the Big Three. It will not be an easy feat, as Freedom Mobile showed us over the past several years. It’s tough to dethrone the kings, especially if they’ve been dominating for such a long time.

With Rogers and Shaw joining forces, the Big Three may be too powerful for a fourth player to be able to make noise without a bit of help from federal regulators. Though I do think the competent managers over at Quebecor can give the Big Three a run for their money, it will take time. Perhaps many years before Quebecor can make the slightest dent in the share of the Big Three.

Telus is a pure-play telecom that doesn’t have a media business that’s dragging amid macro headwinds. With a magnificent network and a huge budget, it will be hard for any smaller telecom to catch up. Quebecor will need to be aggressive with promos and other efforts if it’s going to put up a fight. And let’s not forget about the magnitude of spending it’ll have to put up in an effort to pull ahead in a certain target market.

Bottom line

Though I’m a big fan of Quebecor, investors should mute their expectations when it comes to disrupting the Big Three. When it comes to changes in Canada’s telecom scene, I do think it will take many, many years for things to play out. Going up against the Big Three will not be a cakewalk. Quebecor likely knows this, and it could take a different angle as it looks to carve out a small share for itself outside of Quebec.

In any case, there doesn’t seem to be too much investor enthusiasm as Quebecor looks to expand its footprint beyond its home turf. The stock trades at just 12.8 times trailing price-to-earnings, with a 3.5% dividend yield.

When it comes to the telecoms, why not bet on all four names? Quebecor for value and long-term growth, and a name like BCE for income (the 6.3% yield is a thing of beauty) in the present.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Joey Frenette has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Rogers Communications and TELUS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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