Ditching the ‘South’ maybe best thing for the evolving C Spire

by Nancy Anderson

Published: October 23,2011

Tags: C Spire, Cellular South, for sale, marketing firm, MBJ column, Mind Over Money, Nancy Anderson

Cellular South recently changed its name to C Spire. I’m sure they paid a marketing firm a lot of money for that name. And I’m sure the marketing firm paid a lot of focus group people to sit around and rate various names. But, for the life of me, I can’t understand how they landed on “C Spire.”

Cellular South is a privately owned telecommunications company with a good reputation in this region. You can’t buy shares in the company on a stock exchange. You can’t get financial information on the company unless you are one of the private owners. It’s the advantage of being a private company — no filings with the SEC, no answering to hoards of shareholders, no phone conferences for analysts or the financial press. But you also have no access to the large amounts of capital available in our public financial markets.

The company has around a million customers, and most of these are in Mississippi. They have a toe in the edges of Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee, but, mainly, the focus is Mississippi. They are broadening their scope from being just a cell phone company to being a broad telecommunications company, offering all kinds of ways to connect to people and the internet. And now they will offer the coveted IPhone 4S.

So why did they change their name? They say it was to convey this shift to a broader offering of services. They say it was to point out their focus on the customer. They say C Spire stands for customer INspired.

I have another theory. I don’t think C Spire stands for INspired. I think it stands for ASpire. The telecommunications industry in this country is consolidating, with big companies buying up smaller companies. The bet is that we’ll end up with 2 main companies, AT&T and Verizon. I think Cellular South (I mean C Spire) aspires to be bought by one of the giants. Ditching the “South” in their name and working diligently to increase their coverage makes them a more appealing target.

Just a theory… but if that’s what they’re up to, they could have saved a boat load of money. Forget the name change. Just slap a “for sale” sign on top of the old Cellular South.

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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