Bear Stearns thinks Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) is a good business. Sort of.
The brokerage initiated the country's second largest cable firm as "peer perform". Bear Stearns thinks TWC will get an improved yield from the subscribers it bought from bankrupt Adelphia, but is concerned that "some Street estimates may be too ambitious for '07."
The real call from Bear Stearns is it prefers Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) because it has better cash flow per subscriber and its programming costs are growing more slowly than they are at TWC. The firm's price target for the newly public stock is only $41 and it currently trades above $38. Not much of an endorsement.
Now that TWC trades on its own, most analysts who cover Comcast are likely to weigh-in with some judgment of what the company is worth. Comcast is up 40% in the last year, and Wall Street may think that cable is getting a bit rich. And, since many of the TWC shares were issued to Adelphia creditors, they may be anxious to turn them into cash.
Based on the early comments from institutional analysts, it would appear unlikely that TWC is going to pick up a lot of strong buy ratings with price targets well above what the shares trade now. The pricing of the shares appears to have been very efficient when they came public, and cable doesn't appear to be anyone's darling right now. Not at present valuations anyway.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St., LLC