Fortune favours the brave. This applies particularly in business. The commercial landscape in the UK is constantly changing. Just a year ago oil and mining companies were seen as safe investments. A few years ago thesupermarkets were no-brainer buys. And a decade ago the banks were the safest of shares.
Whether you like it or not, change happens. All that you had assumed about a company or an industry can, in a few short moments,be turned on its head. Thats why companies have toanticipate what will happen in the future, rather than depending on what worked in the past.
Once a staid and unexciting utility
Ten years ago, BT (LSE: BT-A) (NYSE: BT.US) was seen as a staid and unexciting utility. Its main business was fixed-line telephony, yet this was an area that seemed a relic of the past. Mobile phones were increasingly popular, and other companies were taking part of BTs core telephony business.The only thing investors used totalk aboutwhen this firm was mentioned was its pension deficit. Surely this wasa company in decline?
Since then, BT has been a copybook example of howan intelligent strategy canturn a companys fortunes around.
While people were making fewer telephone calls, broadband usage was growing rapidly. So the telecoms giant harnessed its phone network to pipe the internet to homes around the country. It is now the countrys leading broadband supplier.
Last year itentered thepay-tv market, taking on Sky by buying up Premiership TV rights and launching its BT Sport TV channels. No other company in the UK has dared make such a bold move. But I sense that BT has the financial strength and the strategic nousto pull it off.
Now at the centre of technology and telecoms in the UK
And now BT is in talks to buy Everything Everywhere, the joint venture created by France Tlcom and Deutsche Telekom. If it can pass the regulatory hurdles, BT would have a dominant position in the broadband market, it would be the leading phone company, and the largest mobile network, plus it would be the fastest growing TV company in Britain.
That would be a formidable commercial prospect. The firm will have been transformed from a moribund utility to a company at the centre of technology and telecoms in this country.
Yet check the fundamentals and BT is still reasonably priced: the 2014 P/E ratio is 15.9, falling to 14.0 in 2015. It appeals as a dividend investment, with a yieldof 2.4%, rising to 2.9%. Any negatives? Well, the one thing we should keep an eye on is the net debt; Ill be interested to see how the EE dealis funded.
Nonetheless, by making all the right strategic moves, BT has made itself hard to ignore. It is a buy for me, and a business I am seriously considering adding to my portfolio.
If youare considering buying into BT as a dividend investment, then I would strongly recommend that you read our guide to high-yield investing. It has been written by our experts at the Fool, and it gives you the lowdown on this crucial investing technique.
Get FREE Issues of The Motley Fool Collective
Get straightforward advice on whats really happening with the stock markets, direct to your inbox. Help yourself with our FREE email newsletter designed to help you protect and grow your portfolio wealth.