(Comcast-NBC Universal article updated with stock information and additional analyst commentary.)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Comcast ( CMCSA) shares spiked to a 52-week high this morning after the company received regulatory clearance to move ahead with its joint venture with NBC Universal. The stock surged to a year-high of $23.68 in early morning trading and closed 1.4% ahead at $23.10.
More than 34.5 million Comcast shares traded hands today, compared with the stock's 3-month average daily volume of about 14 million shares. Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice approved Comcast's plans to take control of NBCU from its parent company, General Electric ( GE). The deal, which was first announced over a year ago, is now expected to close later this month. The FCC approved the merger in a 4 to 1 vote. As expected, a number of regulatory conditions were assigned to the venture in order to ensure fairness to Comcast's competitors and customers. However, most analysts don't expect the conditions to completely hinder the company's strength following the venture. Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker reiterated her buy rating on Comcast and raised her expected valuation range for the stock to between $27 and $29, from a range of $25 to $27 after the deal was approved. She predicts the company will benefit from enhanced capital returns related to the joint venture. The FCC is requiring a number of concessions from Comcast as part of the merger, however as Ryvicker pointed out, there is no "sweeping program access rules applied to online video content." "It appears uncomfortably difficult for an online video distributor to gain access to Comcast-NBCU online video content without going through major hoops," she said in her Jan. 19 research note. In addition, NBCU will maintain its economic interest in Hulu but will be forced to give up its voting rights.