Goldman Sachs Sees Wave of M&A Among Cable, Telecom Suppliers

Updated from 10:35 a.m ET to include stock prices, added commentary.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The consolidation of the telecom sector may be nearly complete as investors await a long-speculated merger of Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS), but analysts at Goldman Sachs believe there could be a brewing wave of deal-making among companies that supply equipment to the telecom and cable industries.

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A team of Goldman communications technology analysts led by Simona Jankowski said on Monday they have raised their ranking that Adtran (ADTN), Calix (CALX), Ciena (CIEN), Infinera (INFN), Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Silver Springs Networks (SSNI) could each be the target of consolidation, as telecom and cable equipment suppliers seek scale and revenue growth to meet a recovering economy.

Those firms now join BlackBerry (BBRY), BroadSoft (BSFT), Gigamon (GIMO), Infoblox and Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) as the most-likely M&A targets in the communications technology space, according to Goldman's rankings.

Goldman updated what it calls the "M&A rankings" report across the communications technology sector because it believes recent consolidation, for instance Comcast's (CMCSA) proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable (TWC), AT&T's (T) offer for DirecTV (DTV) and Sprint's possible merger with T-Mobile, could pressure vendors to also seek added scale. Meanwhile, management teams are refocusing on top-line growth either through organic investment or M&A amid a recovering economy.

In its report, Goldman also cited a favorable investor reaction to M&A, the tax-efficient use of overseas cash and more attractive overall market valuations as factors that could drive M&A in the telecom equipment space.

"[T]here has been a wave of service provider (carriers, multi-service operators (MSOs), Internet service providers (ISPs)) consolidation and there has been media speculation that this consolidation will continue. We believe the resulting rationalization of vendors at these consolidating service providers as well as a smaller absolute number of service provider customers to sell into could cause a corresponding consolidation in service provider vendors," Goldman concluded.

Silver Spring Network shares have shed over 30% year-to-date, while Adtran and Calix have both fallen over 15% in 2014. Ciena has fallen nearly 8% year-to-date, while Infinera has fallen nearly 5%. Only Juniper Networks has risen in 2014, posting an over 8% rise.

Goldman believes the outperformance of large-cap communication tech firms relative to smaller and mid-size competitors could increase the possibility of consolidation, as M&A becomes less costly and possibly more accretive to earnings.

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-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York.

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