News

Comcast Deal Ripples Reach EchoStar

2/15/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

Comcast Corp.'s attempt last week to bear-hug The Walt Disney Co. spurred a great deal of interest in, among other stocks, EchoStar Communications Corp.

Last Wednesday, volume in EchoStar stock topped 12.5 million shares, up from about 1.5 million the day before.

EchoStar closed at $39.28 on Wednesday, up $1.58 (4%), in NASDAQ trading.

While in the case of Comcast-Disney, the distributor would be the acquirer, investor bets seemed to be on a big content provider acquiring EchoStar's Dish Network national TV-distribution assets.

That was the case, after all, with the last big TV merger — News Corp.'s purchase of DirecTV Inc. — a deal that some pundits said put pressure on Comcast to go vertical.

Analysts were mixed on what to do, at least to an extent. According to Dow Jones, Deutsche Bank raised its rating on DISH to "buy" from "hold," but JP Morgan cut the stock to "neutral" from "overweight."

CBS Marketwatch quoted Merrill Lynch analyst Marc Nabi as calling EchoStar's run-up justified, as a possible takeover target for General Electric's NBC or maybe for a different kind of distributor, SBC Communications Inc.