Bernstein Research has upgraded its rating of
Comcast stock from "perform" to "outperform" Tuesday and
upgraded its target price from $20 to $26 per share on the assumption that the
FCC and Justice are close to approving the deal.
"We think it is time for investors to start
thinking of Comcast as the combined Comcast/NBCU," said Bernstein senior
analyst Craig Moffett in a report to investors Tuesday morning. Moffett says he
is expecting the deal to close in early 2011, as do an increasing number of
deal watchers inside and outside the FCC.
Moffett says that even with online
conditions, which remain the key question mark on the deal, Comcast is
primarily a distribution company and those conditions will "primarily
affect the content side" which is less than 10% of its earnings.
"Comcast's core cable distribution business will not be materially
affected by these conditions," he said.
Comcast has lagged other cable stocks due to the
regulatory limbo of the deal vetting, says Moffett, but looked at as a combined
company, should be more attractive to investors, particularly with the FCC's
move away from Title II reclassification of broadband and support in the
network neutrality order for usage-based pricing, which Moffett has said is
huge for the cable industry.
By contrast, NBCU is likely to be worth less inside the deal that
stand-alone given the expected conditions, including possibly on pricing of its
content to competitors, he said.