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Telly just like back home



PHUKET: As expats, we all have things that we miss about our home countries. For me, I have to say what I miss the most is American television. I miss having hundreds of channels (all in English) that I can watch whenever I want. There’s nothing quite like ESPN, HBO, Showtime, Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) and AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) with their hit programs like Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

The first thing I did when I knew that I was moving to Thailand was sign up for Netflix NASDAQ:NFLX) thinking I could watch shows online. After all, Netflix is one of my favorite stocks and has been a huge winner for me. The stock is up about 375% in the past year! Unfortunately, when I got to Thailand I discovered that Netflix doesn’t work here. I assumed that Netflix worked everywhere. Boy was I wrong!

Then I decided to get Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV. It works, but I have had to purchase each show individually through iTunes and, as I soon discovered, that can get expensive… fast! I then went the route many of us go and surfed the web looking for clips on YouTube. It’s still not what I wanted though because I want to watch complete shows.

I was explaining my situation to a regular attendee of my seminars for the Chiang Mai Money Club and he told me that he has a Slingbox. He explained that a Slingbox is hooked up to your cable box so you can then watch your cable TV subscription wherever you have an Internet connection. The problem I have is with this possibility, is that I have canceled my cable service back home, since I’m gone for so long at a time.

I started thinking that one of the cable or satellite providers must offer the type of service I’m looking for. As a shareholder in Sprint (NYSE:S), I soon realized that the CEO of DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH) has the same vision as I do. DISH CEO Charlie Ergen believes in cutting the cord and that TV should be viewed on mobile devices anywhere at anytime. Checking out DISH’s website, I soon discovered that they offer what I’m looking for with “DISH Anywhere”.

This is the future of television. That’s why DISH wanted to buy Sprint. DISH wants to bundle its satellite television service with your mobile plan and connect all facets of your life. Even though DISH lost the bidding war over Sprint, the firm has been buying wireless spectrum to fulfill Ergen’s vision. Even here in Thailand, the government has been selling spectrum licenses worth billions of dollars. Spectrum is extremely valuable.

While I have not signed up for the “DISH Anywhere” package yet, I have purchased shares in DISH. DISH Network has a market cap of US$20 billion and is the second largest satellite cable provider in the US after DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV). There is some speculation that the two satellite providers could merge, but that remains to be seen because the FCC blocked a potential merger between the two over 10 years ago. A merger would be great for both companies and reduce their overheads by billions of dollars. I like Direct TV stock too, as its price has moved up 200% since March 2009. It has emerged as a strong leadership stock out of the banking financial crisis.

Shares of DISH Network have risen 44% in the past year. The company is sitting on almost $10 billion in cash for acquisitions and the forward price to earnings ratio (P/E) is a reasonable 22. But what I like most about DISH Network is the vision of CEO and founder Charlie Ergen. He knows the business and has amassed a fortune of over US$10 billion for himself in building the company. It’s safe to say he has a vested interest in this new model of TV distribution and has the most to gain going forward.

Shares of Netflix are getting a little pricey. The company’s P/E is an astronomical 353. However, the company’s growth potential is enormous just by looking at the map of countries where Netflix is unavailable. As we know here in Thailand, the demand for all things American is huge, and there’s a growing middle class that is becoming more sophisticated with computers and mobile devices. Just take a look at how many Thais are using Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google and Skype these days.

I just returned from the US and am considering signing up for the “DISH Anywhere” package. I’m looking forward to being able to access my favorite shows and watch what I want, when I want. As I’m able to do more things here that I was able to do in the US, I find the desire to go back less and less and I’m able to make my home in Thailand the ultimate paradise!

Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisor with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), based in Phuket, Thailand. He has over 15 years experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email: Call to discuss ways to reduce portfolio fees and get your account growing efficiently.

Keep checking our online Phuket Business pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for local and national business news.

— Don Freeman


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