Is Cable a Safe Haven?


Salomon Smith Barney Inc. analyst Niraj Gupta initiated coverage of four cable operators last week, placing a "buy" rating on Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., as well as an "outperform" rating on Cox Communications Inc. Gupta also restated a "buy" rating on Mediacom Communications Corp. "We regard the long-term fundamental outlook for cable as bright," Gupta wrote. Gupta set a 12-month price target of $95 per share on Cablevision, $26 per share for Charter, $50 for Comcast and $48 for Cox. In "Cable: A Safe Place, In Our View, Regardless of Who's in the White House," Gupta cited diminished competition from direct-broadcast satellite; accelerating revenue and cash-flow growth from new services; nearly completed plant upgrades; and improving returns on capital.