Accentuating The Cautious

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SG Cowen cable analysts took stock of the second quarter and came away cautious. Competition, which recently helped to hammer Cox Communications Inc., lurks in the form of direct-broadcast-satellite and digital- subscriber-line providers. And consolidation, which helped to elevate stock values, has ground to a halt. On the upside, sales of new services keep rising-Cowen upwardly revised its sales estimates for Comcast Corp. and Cablevision Systems Corp.-and the analysts think that more consolidation will eventually take place. Strong-buy rated Comcast and Cablevision remain the top picks, followed by buy-rated EchoStar Communications Corp.