Antec Set to Wade Out of the Cable Mess - TheStreet

After getting smacked by one of its biggest clients, cable-equipment company

Antec

(ANTC:Nasdaq) has started to recover.

In mid-October, cable-titan

Tele-Communications Inc.

(TCOMA:Nasdaq) halted shipments from suppliers like Antec in an effort to get a better handle on cash flow. When word of TCI's efforts reached investors' ears, they dumped cable industry stocks with abandon.

Since then, Antec, which makes cable network equipment, has plunged 33%, closing at 10 on Monday, up 1/8. After getting clipped, Antec currently trades at about 16 times its trailing 12-months earnings. Among other cable-supply companies getting torched:

TSX Corp.

(TSXX:Nasdaq), which will be acquired by Antec in early 1997, has fallen 5 to 9 +. On the upside,

General Instrument

(GIC:Nasdaq) has reacted little to the TCI woes, gaining a smidgen since late October to 23 +.

Some investors now contend that the cable-equipment group nose-dive was a market over-reaction. For example, cable-equipment company

Ortel

(ORTL:Nasdaq), which has indistinct ties to TCI, slipped 2 5/8 to 20 + in the two days following TCI's shipment cessation. According to Ortel, TCI comprises a mere 3% of the company's sales.

Adding to the budding optimism surrounding some companies in the cable-equipment group: Many of the firms will display their wares at the

Western Cable Show

in Anaheim, Calif., which convenes Wednesday.

To be sure, cable companies are paring certain expenditures as dreams of an instant 500-channel world flicker. But cable companies will continue to invest heavily in upgrading their networks for advanced services, analysts say. And Antec, especially after the TSX merger, will be well positioned to provide important cable network components and fiber product as cable companies continue to build out their networks.

"A lot of people are overreacting," said Tripp Rudisill, analyst with investment bank

Raymond James

. "The cable companies are still spending for fiber-optic upgrade"--just more discriminately.

While practically all cable-related companies are struggling in the stock market, Rudisill argues that cable firms will pare back on consumer devices, not on fiber and other infrastructure efforts. Industry studies estimate that the cable industry will pour $6 billion into its networks in 1997, compared to $4.75 billion this year.

In the third quarter, Antec reported net income of $6.1 million, or 26 cents a share, rebounding from a loss of $11.9 million, or 52 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue was nominally lower at $483.1 million.

Antec officials could not be reached for comment.

By Kevin Petrie