PEG: Dish OK, DirecTV Tops

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Prudential Equity Group analyst Katherine Styponias initiated coverage of the direct-broadcast satellite industry last week with a “neutral” rating, making DirecTV Group Inc. her top pick in the sector.

Styponias placed an “underweight” rating and a $35 price target on EchoStar Communications Corp. and an “overweight” rating ($19 target) on DirecTV. In her report, Styponias said EchoStar management has done a stellar job in executing and managing its operations effectively.

“But we also think DirecTV’s cheaper valuation (even when taking into consideration a 'Murdoch discount’), coupled with our expectation of faster subscriber growth at DirecTV will likely keep a lid on the EchoStar shares,” she wrote.