Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Adam Quinton raised his rating on AT&T Corp. from near-term "neutral" to near-term "buy" on Jan. 2, in the wake of AT&T's decision to sell its AT&T Broadband cable unit to Comcast Corp. for about $72 billion. Quinton joined a number of analysts who raised their ratings, mostly because the deal lowers AT&T Corp.'s debt obligation. In a research note, Quinton wrote that although AT&T continues to face challenges in its core telephone operations, he expects the deal to push its stock to $21 a share. Comcast agreed to assume about $20 billion of AT&T debt. AT&T closed at $18.14 on Dec. 31. The stock has been up 8 percent, or $1.34, since the deal was announced on Dec. 19.