It took a troubled titan desperate to appease Wall Street to do it, but someone finally came up with a deal that makes AT&T ( T) look smart. After years of high-stakes blundering that transformed Ma Bell first into Ma Cable and then into a blushing bride for cable giant Comcast ( CMCSK), AT&T finally got its hands on a good deal Wednesday. Analysts say AOL's buyout of AT&T's stake in Time Warner Entertainment appears to have been done on terms favorable to the soon-to-be-formed AT&T Comcast. AOL executives stressed in a Wednesday morning conference call that the buyout and the planned IPO of Time Warner Cable represented a fair solution to a complicated problem. The deal will make AOL easier to understand and simpler to manage, CEO Dick Parsons said. Investors cheered, sending the company's beaten-down shares up 5% and pushing AT&T and Comcast sharply higher as well. But some observers, noting AOL's reticence to share some terms of the deal, suspect that AT&T Comcast demanded a hefty premium. After all, clearing the books of TWE was vitally important to AOL, which is struggling under the weight of a big debt load and mounting scrutiny of its books. Meanwhile, with cable stocks in free fall throughout 2002, not everyone is certain that even a high-quality cable IPO will be warmly received by a struggling, debt-sore market.