Cable Operators

Analysts Differ On Dish Network

8/09/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Dish Network's followers are divided.

Two highly respected media analysts — Credit Suisse's Spencer Wang and Sanford Bernstein's Craig Moffett — offered two differing views on the No. 2 satellite-TV provider last week, with one holding out hope Dish can salvage the rest of the year and the other stating that the hurdles may just be too high.

Wang was the more optimistic of the two — he raised his rating on Dish from “neutral” to “outperform,” adding that the troubled satellite giant may be reaching an “inflection point.”

Although Dish has been rocked by heavy subscriber losses (102,000 in 2008 and 94,000 in the first quarter this year), Wang believes that the worst may be over. He revised his subscriber-loss estimates for the second quarter and full year to 84,000 and 365,000 from his earlier prediction of 114,000 and 418,000, respectively.

In a research note last Monday, Moffett wrote that although it is tempting to go against the grain on Dish, the hurdles are just too high.

“As much as the contrarian-for-its-own-sake view is tempting, our analysis suggests that the probability of a (positive) subscriber surprise is low,” Moffett wrote.

Moffett predicted that Dish would lose about 121,000 customers in the second quarter.

Investors will know soon enough who took the right stance. Dish is expected to release second-quarter results on Aug. 10.

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