Analyst Balks at AOL Rating


CS First Boston initiated coverage of five media stocks last week, including AOL Time Warner Inc., but failed to give a rating to the media giant because of mounting problems.

CSFB started coverage on Viacom Inc. ("strong buy," $52); Walt Disney Co. ("buy," $21); Fox Entertainment Group ("buy," $29); and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. ("hold," $13); but declined to give a rating or 12-month price target to AOL TW.

"AOL Time Warner has been besieged since the merger with bad news, including significantly lowered growth expectations, management turnover, government investigations of accounting practices, and a strategic crisis as the engine of the future [ISP America Online] has ground to a halt," CSFB wrote in a report to clients.