EchoStar Fans Await Liftoff
EchoStar (DISH) fans are growing anxious.
The satellite broadcaster is due to post earnings Wednesday morning. Wall Street is looking for a 35-cent per-share profit on sales of $2.19 billion.
But it's not the fourth-quarter numbers that Wall Streeters are so interested in. They're looking for signs of life on the strategic front. As rivals ranging from AT&T (T) and Comcast (CMCSA) to Verizon (VZ) jockey for position on a shifting communications landscape, backers of EchoStar are looking for CEO Charlie Ergen to shake things up a bit.
Upping the stakes, EchoStar shares have been flat for the last five years. They closed Tuesday at $29.46.A Goldman report this week suggested that fans are hoping Ergen will make comments indicating that management is weighing a sale or at least a joint broadband venture with competitor DirecTV (DTV). Goldman analyst Lale Topcuoglu concedes that Ergen is unlikely to divulge anything of much significance. While Ergen's silence wouldn't necessarily signal a lack of interest, Goldman "believes it could reduce the market's patience" with the stock. Goldman makes a market in EchoStar, and has an outperform/neutral rating on the stock. The Englewood, Colo., company has been bandied about as an acquisition target, especially following last week's megamerger between BellSouth (BLS) and AT&T. Rupert Murdoch's DirecTV is in talks with EchoStar, and perhaps others, on how to launch a nationwide wireless broadband network.
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